What is a Diagnostic Mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is provided when women present with any breast symptoms or concerns, such as a breast mass, palpable lump, nipple discharge, unusual breast pain, or skin changes, and will require a referral from your health care provider. It is also used when a breast irregularity is seen on a screening mammography exam.
In most cases, this more detailed exam shows there are no problems. But in some cases, patients are asked to have other diagnostic exams such as an ultrasound. It may also lead to a recommendation for a biopsy or short-term follow-up exam.
All diagnostic mammograms at the breast center are performed in private suites by female technologists.
What Will the Exam Be Like?
Please plan on being in the breast center for about an hour to complete your appointment.
A certified mammography technologist will conduct your diagnostic exam. A diagnostic mammogram is similar to a screening mammogram, but utilizing more specialized views. This detailed exam usually takes longer than a standard screening exam. The same type of machine that is used for a screening mammogram is used for a diagnostic exam, but in this case the technologist takes additional images at the radiologist’s request. These images are immediately reviewed by the radiologist.
In some circumstances, your mammogram may be followed immediately by a breast ultrasound exam. This exam is painless and non-invasive.
Some women experience minor discomfort during a mammogram. Others experience no discomfort at all.
If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask the technologist. It’s important that you are informed.
What Do I Need To Do Before My Exam?
Please wear a comfortable, loose fitting two-piece outfit as you will be asked to remove your top prior to the exam. A soft robe will be provided for your comfort. Please refrain from wearing any powder, perfumes, deodorant and/or lotions on your underarms and breasts as they can interfere with the images. A moist towelette will be provided if you need it and deodorant will be supplied to you after your exam. The best way to reduce discomfort is to schedule your exam a week after your menstrual cycle and take a non-aspirin pain reliever (such as Tylenol, Advil or Aleve) an hour before your exam.
How and When Will I Learn About My Results?
One of the breast center’s board-certified radiologists who specializes in breast imaging will interpret your exam. You will be informed of the results of your test and any recommendations before leaving your appointment. A report will be finalized within 24 hours and then sent to your referring health care provider.
Under the 21st Century Cures Act, we are required by law to provide you access to your results within 24 hours of them being finalized. Unfortunately, this means you could receive your results prior to receiving communication from our team.
If you have questions about your exam results at the Carol Milgard Breast Center, please contact your personal physician or health care provider rather than the breast center.
Mammography Q & As
For more details about mammograms, please visit Mammography Q&As.
The Carol Milgard Breast Center is fully accredited in mammography by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The ACR only grants the gold seal of accreditation when a breast center provides patients the highest level of image quality and patient safety.