CHI Health is proud to be the first health system in Nebraska to provide 3D mammography. We now have 3D mammography available at our diagnostic centers at CHI Health Bergan Mercy, CHI Health Immanuel, CHI Health Lakeside, CHI Health Midlands, CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs, CHI Health St. Elizabeth and CHI Health St. Francis. While traditional mammography continues to be the gold standard for most patients, we now have yet another layer of diagnostic testing that has been proven to find cancers (specifically early stage cancers) at a higher rate. For patients who are considered high risk or have a family history of breast cancer, 3D mammography is the preferred method of imaging.
What is 3D mammography?
3D Mammography, or Digital Breast Tomosynthesis, allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. It generates a stack of 1 mm slice images (“layers”) of breast tissue. Instead of viewing the complexities of your breast tissue in one flat image, the radiologist can examine the tissue one layer at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by overlapping tissue.
It’s recommended that 3D mammography be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of your annual screening mammogram to capture more breast images. 3D mammography in combination with traditional digital mammography detects up to 40% more invasive cancers and decreases false positive rates by 15%. (January 7, 2013 issue of Radiology)
Who is eligible for 3D mammography?
All women can benefit from 3D Mammography, especially:
- Women between the ages of 40-60
- Women having a baseline, first-time mammogram
- Women with dense breast tissue
- Women with a personal history of cancer
What is the cost of a 3D mammogram?
At this time we expect that private healthcare insurance, Nebraska Medicaid and Medicare will not pay the additional fees for the new 3D technology. Your insurance will be billed for the traditional digital mammogram, but there may be an additional charge for adding the 3D tomosynthesis technology.
The benefits of 3D mammography
3D Mammography (in combination with traditional digital mammography) has the potential to:
- Help reduce false positive rates by 15%
- 40% decrease in call backs which means less worry, anxiety and cost for patients
- Improve the selection of patients for biopsy
- Increase cancer detection rates, especially in patients with dense breasts
- Detects up to 40% more invasive cancers
What to expect during your exam
The 3D mammography screening experience is similar to that of a traditional digital mammogram. The 3D screening images are taken at the same time as your traditional, digital screening. The technologist will position you, compress your breasts under a paddle, and take images from different angles. The X-ray arm will move in an arc, taking multiple low-dose breast images in just seconds. The length of the exam is similar to that of a routine traditional digital mammogram. The technologist sends your breast images electronically to the radiologist, who studies them and reports results to either your physician or directly to you.
The difference between digital and 3D mammography
A. Traditional digital mammogram
B. 3D mammogram (digital breast tomosynthesis) layers or “slices”
The traditional digital mammogram demonstrates an area of concern prompting further investigation with another mammogram of biopsy. With the same breast in 3D, the doctor can now see that this was simply normal overlapping breast tissue simulating an abnormality. The patient avoided a call-back for an additional mammogram, thanks to the 3D exam technology.