Open Accessibility Menu

Diagnostic Mammogram

Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram due to new breast abnormalities such as a palpable lump, nipple discharge, focal areas of pain, and/or skin changes. It may also be performed if there are any abnormalities detected on your screening mammogram. Patients with a prior history of breast cancer may also have a diagnostic mammogram ordered rather than a screening mammogram.

What to Bring

  • Your physician order (if you were given an order from your physician)
  • Personal ID
  • Insurance Card(s)

How to Prepare

  • If possible, please inform the scheduling department of the location of your prior mammogram so we can request the results and have them available for the radiologist at the time of your current mammogram.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit.
  • Do not use deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or near the breasts. These products may show up as an artifact in the image.
  • Please leave valuable jewelry at home.
  • If there is any chance of pregnancy, please inform the technologist.
  • If you wear an on-body device (insulin pump, insulin regulators, Neulasta other chemo/insulin devices, etc.), you must inform your imaging technologist. These devices cannot be in the X-ray room during the exam.

What to Expect

  • A specially qualified technologist will bring you into a dressing room to verify your information and go over prior breast history.
  • You will be asked to remove your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a cloth gown for the test.
  • Once in the exam room the technologist will ask to look at your breasts to mark any raised moles, note any scars, and check for bruising and/or rashes.
  • If you are having a mammogram due to a palpable lump the technologist will place a skin marker over the area of concern.
  • A diagnostic mammogram differs from a screening mammography in that additional views of the breast are taken. It is performed if there are any breast abnormalities or if further evaluation is needed.
  • During your mammography exam, your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a clear plastic paddle. The technologist will gradually compress your breast.
  • Breast compression is necessary in order to:
    • Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
    • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities are less likely to be hidden by overlying breast tissue.
    • Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged.
    • Hold the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the imaged caused by motion.
    • Reduce x-ray scatter to increase sharpness of the picture
  • You will be asked to change positions between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an angled side view. In addition to the routine views, special views will be obtained of the area of concern. During positioning, you may be asked to lift your arm or use your hand to hold your other breast out of the way.
  • During the exposure, you must hold very still and may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the X-ray image is taken. When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained or if an ultrasound is needed.
  • You will need to allow 60 minutes from the time you check in to the completion of the test. If an ultrasound is performed after your diagnostic mammogram, please allow an additional 30 minutes for completion.
  • Results are generally available to your ordering medical provider in 24 hours.
  • Results will also be mailed to you by the facility.

More Information