Breast Imaging Services
Mammography exams, including 3-D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis), the most advanced breast imaging used for screening and diagnostic purposes, are performed by specialized breast-imaging-certified technologists. Breast ultrasound exams are performed either by radiologist physicians or registered sonographers specializing in breast ultrasound. Breast biopsy and localization procedures are offered using stereotactic, ultrasound or MRI guidance and are performed by a subset of specialty physicians dedicated to breast imaging and procedures. Screening mammography uses low dose X-rays to take two complementary images of each breast. The exam takes approximately 20 minutes in total and is used to discover early stage breast cancer before the cancer grows large enough to cause symptoms or spread outside of the breast. Early detection usually allows for less intensive toxic therapies, less cost of treatment and more effective treatment. Yearly screening with mammography is recommended by the American Cancer Center for all women over 40. Screening mammography is the key to early identification of potentially dangerous abnormalities. For women over the age of 35, mammograms may be scheduled with or without a referral from a primary care physician. More information is available on our mammograms page.
Schedule a screening mammography exam
To schedule a screening mammography exam at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester, please call (603) 695-2850.
- Diagnostic mammography is used to evaluate signs or symptoms of a breast problem (such as a breast lump) that may have been discovered by the patient or doctor. Diagnostic mammography may also be done after an abnormal screening mammogram to learn if there is truly a problem or if the abnormality was a false alarm. It may also be used to make sure there has been no change in a probably benign abnormality noted on prior mammogram and/or ultrasound.
- 3-D mammography, more formally known as digital breast tomosynthesis, is a new type of breast imaging used for both screening and diagnostic purposes. 3-D mammography is most beneficial for first-time mammograms, for those whose previous test results weren't clear, and women with mostly dense (white on X-ray) breast composition.
- Breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is the most sensitive breast imaging modality, used in screening exams for women with a genetic predisposition or strong family history of breast cancer, for characterization of a newly diagnosed breast cancer, for follow-up monitoring after chemotherapy or surgery, or to evaluate the status of a breast implant. An MRI exam is a radiation-free and painless procedure lasting between 30 and 90 minutes.
- Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of internal structures. It is often used to identify the nature of breast lumps or abnormalities found in mammography, or for non-invasive image guidance in procedures like cyst aspirations or breast needle biopsy.
- Biopsies are often performed when an abnormality has been found--by clinical examination, mammography, ultrasound, or MRI. Unlike the surgical biopsies of the past, modern breast biopsies are typically performed as a minimally-invasive procedure in which imaging technology is used to accurately guide a needle to the abnormality for sampling. The procedures are safe, effective and do not scar or deform the breast.
Breast imaging research
Dartmouth radiologists have a longstanding commitment to breast imaging research. Highlights include pioneering clinical trials on 3-D mammography, studies on the non- surgical treatment of tumors through freezing ("cryoablation"), and research into the usefulness of MRI in detecting small breast lesions. In collaboration with the Thayer School of Engineering, the Imaging Center's radiologists have helped develop alternative breast imaging systems involving near-infrared light, electrical impedance, microwave spectroscopy, and measurements of tissue elasticity. The hope is that these techniques, alone or in combination with existing modalities, can improve the accuracy, comfort and safety of existing methods.