Imaging Services: Digital Mammography
What is digital mammography?
Digital mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that can be displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor, and transmitted and stored just like computer files.
From a patient's point of view, having a digital mammogram is very much like having a conventional screen-film mammogram. Both film-based and digital mammography use compression and X-rays to create clear images of the inside of the breast.
During all mammography exams, the technologist positions the patient to image the breast from different angles and compresses the breast with a paddle to obtain optimal image quality. But unlike film-based mammography, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologist's monitor in a matter of seconds. There is no waiting for film to develop, which can mean spending less time in the breast imaging suite.
Unlike other parts of the body, the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue. When breast tissue is X-rayed, it creates an image that looks something like a smoky haze, making it difficult to see tiny "spots," called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
The benefits of digital mammography
With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast using special high-resolution monitors. The physician can adjust the brightness, change contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of interest. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology.
Another convenience of digital mammography over film-based systems is it can greatly reduce the need for retakes due to over- or under-exposure. This potentially saves additional time and reduces your exposure to X-rays.
Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network. Digital images can also be easily stored, copied without any loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner, eliminating dependence on only one set of "original" films.
According to the American Cancer Society, women 40 years old and older should receive an annual mammogram. To schedule your digital mammogram at Altoona Regional, obtain an order from your physician and call 889.4222.
Digital mammography was featured on the WTAJ Healthcast with Charlotte Ames! Click here to watch the segment on our new technology.
To find out more about Altoona Regional's outpatient radiology services at Station Medical Center, click here.