What to expect
What to expect when going for a mammogram?
During a mammogram, the radiographer will position you and image the breast.
The breast is first placed on a special cassette and compressed with a paddle (made of clear Plexiglas or other soft plastic).
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 aren’t obscured 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 eliminate blurring of the image
• Reduce x-ray scatter which also leads to poor image quality
The radiographer will make the first x-ray exposure.
You will be asked to change positions slightly between images, and then the process will be repeated for the other breast.
Generally, this is a painless procedure.
You will feel pressure on the breast as it is squeezed by the compressor.
Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort. Be sure to inform the radiographer if pain occurs as compression is increased.
The examination process may take up to half an hour.
Sometimes additional images need to be taken from different angles or with differing degrees of compression to show internal breast structures more clearly.
It may also be necessary to perform an ultrasound or MRI examination to add more information, particularly if breast tissue is dense, or if a lump can be felt or seen.
What to expect when going for a Breast MRI?
Please visit our MRI service page for a comprehensive review of what to expect and how to prepare for your breast MRI.
Most MRI exams are painless, however, you might find it uncomfortable to remain still during the imaging process.
For an MRI of the breast, you will lie face down on a platform specially designed for the procedure. The platform has openings to accommodate your breasts and allow them to be imaged without compression.
The electronics needed to capture the MRI image are actually built into the platform. It is important to remain very still throughout the exam.
Be sure to let the radiographer know if something is uncomfortable since discomfort increases the chance that you will feel the need to move during the exam.
What to expect when going for a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scan?
Our Bone Mineral Density scan is a quick and painless procedure.
You will be asked to lie down on a padded table.
As a standard, your spine and one/both hips will be examined.
In some cases, the forearm might also be scanned, if either the hip or spine is unavailable (usually due to surgery or implants).
As any condition affecting bone density tends to affect the whole skeleton, a snapshot of a few sites is sufficient to establish the overall bone density.
The BMD at the hip and spine has been shown to be the best way of predicting the risk of fracture.
The BMD scan is a painless procedure.