Digital Mammography

The following recommendations have been issued for all women with no abnormal symptoms. The American Cancer Society recommends screening mammograms for women 40 and older annually.  The National Cancer Institute recommends screening every 1-2 years for women 40 and older.

About Digital Mammography

A digital mammogram is a x-ray picture of the breast used to detect tumors and cysts and to help differentiate benign and malignant diseases.  It is an important screening tool in a woman's personal fight against breast cancer.

During your digital mammogram, your breast will be placed on a flat surface by the mammographer. A compression paddle will then be pressed firmly against the breast to flatten out the tissue.  This may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.

In order to prepare for your mammogram, please do not wear any deodorant, powders, ointments, or perfumes under the arms or on your breasts.  These items may cause artifacts on the images.
Mammograms are recommended for anyone experiencing nipple discharge or breast pain, who has found a lump or dimpling of the skin on the breast, or a new retraction of the nipple.

Mammograms play a central part in the early detection of breast cancer because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too small or subtle to be felt. The use of mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages. Now a new technology called full field digital mammography shows great promise in the fight against breast cancer.

Find out from the Radiology Group's Dr. Robert Hartung how digital mammography will expand our ability to protect the breast health of women in Jackson County and to detect breast cancer earlier in more women.

What is Full Field 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 screenfilm 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.

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 a shorter time spent in the breast imaging suite.

The Benefits of Digital Mammography

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.

With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast, using special  highresolution 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.


Appointment scheduling is done through your physician office. For any questions concerning your scheduled exam, please call Imaging Services at 563-652-4053.  Mammograms are available Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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