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Digital mammography technology computerizes the x-ray, enabling physicians to use a lower dose of radiation. Digital mammography is better than traditional film mammography for women who are under age 50; those who have dense breasts, and those who are pre- or peri-menopausal. While reading the digital mammogram, physicians can easily adjust the brightness, contrast and zoom into questionable areas for a more precise view. Also, patients are provided with a Mammopad breast cushion to decrease mammography discomfort.
Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast. Ultrasound imaging involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (as used in X-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
A biopsy is a procedure that removes a sample of cells or tissue from the breast to be tested. The cells or tissue removed are examined under a microscope by a pathologist to identify signs of cancer. The procedure typically takes less than an hour, and the patient is notified of her results within 24 hours after the biopsy. A minimally invasive biopsy is generally not painful because local anesthesia is used, but there may be mild discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Most women who have a biopsy are not diagnosed with cancer.
In ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy can be performed when a breast ultrasound shows a finding such as a suspicious solid mass or an area of abnormal tissue change. Some of these lesions can be felt (palpable) while others cannot be felt (non-palpable). Ultrasound guidance is used for core needle biopsies, vacuum-assisted core biopsies, and for wire localization of a mass prior to surgical excision.
In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses ionizing radiation to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of the abnormality. A stereotactic breast biopsy is most often performed when a mammogram shows a breast abnormality such as microcalcifications, a tiny cluster of small calcium deposits. Microcalcifications are most often benign, but they can frequently be seen in regions of ductal carcinoma in-situ or DCIS. This is a very early form of breast cancer that is confined to the ducts and is highly curable. The stereotactic approach may be used for core needle or vacuum-assisted biopsies, and for wire localization of a mass prior to surgical excision.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays). MRI of the breast offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound.
MRI-guided breast biopsy
In MRI-guided breast biopsy,magnetic resonance imaging is used to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of the abnormal growth. An MRI-guided breast biopsy is most helpful when MR imaging shows a breast abnormality such as a suspicious mass not identified by other imaging techniques.
Bone densitometry is an enhanced form of X-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss. This scan is most often performed on the lower spins and hips but in some adults, the whole body is scanned. Bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, as well as structural changes, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
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