Breast Imaging & Intervention

Letter from the Breast Imaging Doctors at GCM-Suburban Imaging regarding 3D Digital Mammography/ Breast Tomosynthesis


Dear Patient:

We are pleased to introduce a new technology in the detection of breast cancer called 3D Mammography or breast tomosynthesis.  We write this letter to you to answer any questions that you may have.

What is 3D mammography/breast tomosynthesis and how is it done?

Breast tomosynthesis/3D mammography is a technology which uses a computer algorithm to turn digital images of the breast, obtained at various angles, into very thin slices, allowing radiologists to view the breast tissue in thin layers, creating a “3D mammogram.”

During the digital tomosynthesis exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over the breast, taking multiple serial images in approximately 4 seconds, while the breast is in compression.  The exam is performed in two planes. The images are then sent to the workstation for interpretation.

Digital tomosynthesis is performed in addition to your regular 2D digital mammogram. Very low energy x-ray is used for tomosynthesis so that your radiation exposure in combination with the regular 2D digital mammogram is safely below the American College of Radiology (ACR) and FDA guidelines.

Currently, there is a charge of $65 for 3D mammography, as this is not covered by most insurances. Insurance does cover the 2D portion of the examination and the $65 fee is an eligible flexible spending account expense.

What are the advantages of 3D mammograms?

3D mammography allows radiologists to take a look at your breast “layer by layer,” thereby helping to see fine details which may otherwise be obscured by overlapping tissues.  By allowing BETTER VISUALIZATION of the breast tissue, radiologists are able to improve the CHARACTERIZATION OF SUSPICIOUS FINDINGS, including the size, shape and location.  A recently published large scale scientific study evaluating the addition of 3D mammography to 2D digital mammography in the screening population found significant improvement in the CANCER DETECTION RATE, with a 27% overall increase in cancer detection and 40% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers.  3D mammography also helps decrease the number of callbacks by helping the radiologist discern overlapping breast tissue from a true mammographic abnormality which resulted in a 15% decrease in the false positive rate in the recently published study.

 In summary, the advantages of 3D mammography are as follows:

                -fewer callbacks (and associated follow up studies)

                -improved characterization of suspicious findings

                -improved localization of masses within the breast

-improved breast cancer detection; 27% overall and 40% increase in detection of invasive cancers.

Who is a candidate for 3D Mammography?

Currently, 3D mammography is an additional screening tool that is utilized in conjunction with 2D digital mammography. While this technology is still under investigation and will likely benefit all patients, it may be of particular benefit for women with a strong family history of breast cancer or increased predisposition for breast cancer, and dense breast parenchyma.

We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this technology.  For more information regarding 3D mammography and a link to referenced recently published study (1/7/2013), please visit our website:  Please fell free to call our office at 301-897-5656 to schedule your 3D mammogram.


The Breast Imaging Doctors at GCM-Suburban Imaging

Locations for Breast Imaging