3D tomosynthesis (pronounced toh-moh-SIN-thah-sis) creates a 3-dimensional picture of the breast using X-rays.
How It Works
3D tomosynthesis takes multiple X-ray pictures of each breast from a variety of angles. The positioning of the breast is the same as it is in a 2D mammogram. The X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast while 11 images are taken during a 7-second examination. Then the information is sent to a computer, where it is assembled to produce clear, highly focused 3-dimensional images throughout the breast.
Because it is relatively new, it is available at a limited number of hospitals.
What to expect when getting a 3D Tomosynthesis:
You’ll need to undress above the waist to get a mammogram. The facility will give you a wrap to wear. Your technologist will position your breasts for the mammogram. You and the technologist are the only ones in the room during the 3D mammogram.
The technologist places your breast on the plate of the machine. A plastic upper plate is lowered to compress your breast for a few seconds while the x-ray moves in an arc and takes the pictures.
You may experience some discomfort and pressure when the breast is compressed, and it can be painful for some women. Tell the technologist if it hurts.
How to prepare for your 3D Tomosynthesis:
We recommend you schedule your 3D Tomosynthesis when your breasts are not tender or swollen to help reduce discomfort and achieve clear pictures. It’s best to avoid the week just before your period.
Here’s a few things you should do to prepare on the day of your exam:
- Don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Some of these contain substances that can show up on the x-ray as white spots. If you need, feel free to bring your deodorant to apply after the exam.
- You might find it easier to wear separates, like a skirt or pants and a shirt, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the mammogram.
- Describe to the best of your ability any changes or issues you’re having to the technologist doing the mammogram.
- Also describe any medical history that could affect your risk for breast cancer—such as surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before.
- If you think you might be pregnant or you’re breastfeeding, tell the technologist before getting the imaging test.
- Discuss any recent changes or problems in your breasts with your healthcare provider before getting the mammogram.