Get to Know What Compression Mammography is all About

A mammogram is a medical test that produces images of the inner breast tissue on film using low-dose amplitude-X-rays. This technique, called mammography, is used to visualize normal and abnormal structures within the breasts. Mammography, therefore, can help in identifying cysts, calcifications, and tumors within the breast. A mammogram is a screening tool used for early detection of breast cancer, typically through detection of characteristic masses and/or microcalcifications.

The test involves taking images of each breast from two different directions. If the physician interpreting the screening mammogram images finds something that is abnormal, questionable, or unclear on the images, the patient is suggested to come back for additional imaging on the same day or on a subsequent date.

Additional imaging may include the following:

  • Additional orientations or "views" that is capturing images from different angles
  • Breast ultrasound to evaluate questionable areas such as suspected cysts seen at screening mammogram
  • Special mammography views, which may include magnification views or focal/spot compression views.
  • Other adjunctive imaging such as MR, Sestamibi or T-scan imaging

Magnification views use a small magnification table which brings the breast closer to the x-ray source and further away from the film plate. This allows the acquisition of "zoomed in" images of the site of interest. Magnification views allow clearer assessment of the borders and the tissue structures of a suspicious area or a mass. Magnification views enable doctors to evaluate micro-calcifications, tiny specks of calcium in the breast that may indicate a small cancer.

Compression Mammography involves applying compression to a smaller area of tissue using a small compression plate or cone. By applying compression to only a specific area of the breast, the effective pressure can be increased on that spot. This results in better tissue separation and allows better visualization of the small area in question. Compression Mammography displays the borders of an abnormality or questionable area better than the standard mammography views. Some sites of the breast that look unusual on the standard mammography images are often shown to be normal tissue on the compression mammography. True abnormalities usually appear more prominently and the borders of the abnormality can be better seen on compression views.

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