Better, earlier detection with tomosynthesis
With breast imaging options like tomosynthesis, you can get even more peace of mind about your breast health. Often called a 3D mammogram, tomosynthesis provides detailed images of the breast tissue to detect breast conditions, including breast cancer, in the earliest stages.
With dozens of imaging locations across North and Central Texas, we make it easy to access this advanced technology where it’s convenient for you. We also offer online scheduling for 3D screening mammograms and a comprehensive approach that guides you through every step of caring for your breast health.
What is tomosynthesis?
Digital breast tomosynthesis is an advanced type of mammogram that uses X-rays to create images of the breast in thin layers. During the test, the X-ray machine takes multiple images from different angles in a few seconds, offering a layer-by-layer or 3D view.
Many of our imaging centers offer the option to have a 3D mammogram for your screening or diagnostic mammogram. Tomosynthesis is often recommended for those with dense breast tissue because it may increase the accuracy of the screening.
Advances in mammography, such as tomosynthesis, have helped improve the quality of mammogram images. From greater visibility to increased accuracy, several studies have shown potential benefits to choosing a 3D mammogram over a 2D mammogram.
Because of these benefits, many of our imaging centers offer the option to schedule your screening mammogram using 3D imaging technology. To find out more about how this option could benefit your health, talk with your primary care physician or OBGYN.
Tomosynthesis gives your care team a view of the breast using dozens of images in 1 mm layers. As a result, the radiologist on the medical staff who reviews your images has greater visibility into the many layers of your breast tissue.
This may make areas of the breast clearer and help detect concerns that might otherwise be hidden by overlapping layers on a 2D mammogram.
With more detailed images, 3D mammograms improve early detection, catching breast cancer when it’s more treatable. For example, studies have shown that digital tomosynthesis offered anywhere from a 21% increase to a 41% increase in the detection rate compared to 2D.
Tomosynthesis also was helpful in the type of tumors that it caught early. According to another study, the technology found more small, invasive cancers than traditional mammograms, especially in those under age 50.
Dense breast tissue is a common breast feature found in nearly half of all people who get mammograms. But it can make it harder to see areas of concern because both dense tissue and tumors show up white on a mammogram.
Tomosynthesis offers a better view of the layers of tissue, which can make some breast tumors visible that aren’t seen in 2D. According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown 3D mammograms to be especially helpful in improving accuracy in dense breasts.
About 1 in 10 women get called back for follow-up testing after their mammogram. But 3D mammography may help lower the number of callbacks due to false positives, reducing unneeded concern. One study found that using tomosynthesis for screening mammograms decreased the recall rate by 30%.
2D vs. 3D mammogram
While 3D mammograms offer some extra benefits, 2D mammograms continue to be a helpful tool in early detection too. No matter the type of screening mammogram you and your care provider choose, you’re making a step for your breast health that you can feel good about.
Both 2D and 3D mammograms:
- Are approved screenings under the current guidelines
- Provide low-dose X-ray images of the breast tissue
- Help detect changes before you have symptoms
- Are covered by most insurances as a screening
- Create more detailed images of the breast in thin layers
- Offer potential benefits, such as more visibility and reduced follow-up
- May be recommended for women with dense breast tissue
3D mammogram vs. ultrasound
If you have an average risk, a mammogram is usually the only screening you need to check on your breast health. However, based on your health history or risk factors, your health provider might also use a breast ultrasound to get more details.
Both tests give your provider images of your breast tissue but in different ways. Most of the time, an ultrasound is used along with a mammogram, not as a replacement for this important screening.
- Main screening test for breast cancer
- Recommend for those with an average risk
- Uses X-rays to create breast images
- Gives views of the complete breast and shows deeper areas
- Often used together with mammography
- Recommended only for some with certain risks
- Uses sound waves to create breast images
- May be helpful to focus on specific areas of the breast
Are 3D mammograms covered by insurance?
By state law, most insurance companies in Texas are required to cover screening mammograms—using either 3D or 2D technology. This means you typically don’t have to pay a copay or deductible for this preventive exam.
If you have a diagnostic 3D mammogram as a follow-up to your screening, then copays and deductibles may apply.
How long does it take to get 3D mammogram results?
For both 2D and 3D mammograms, you’ll get results from your screening in about the same amount of time. Often, mammograms are read within a few hours of your test and emailed to you (if you provide an email) or mailed to your home address.
Is tomosynthesis better than a mammogram?
Digital breast tomosynthesis is a more advanced kind of mammogram screening. Studies have shown that it provides some additional benefits compared to a traditional 2D mammogram, such as increased visibility, more accuracy for dense breast tissue and fewer follow-up tests.
Is tomosynthesis the same as ultrasound?
Tomosynthesis and breast ultrasound both provide your health provider with images of the breast, but they aren’t the same test. Tomosynthesis uses X-rays to create a view of your breast, while ultrasound uses sound waves. Usually, ultrasound is used together with another screening like mammography to care for you.
What is a bilateral mammogram with tomosynthesis?
A bilateral mammogram with tomosynthesis is a 3D mammogram of both breasts. Bilateral means images are taken on both sides of the body. Tomosynthesis is a type of digital mammogram that lets your care team view each breast in thin layers, offering a more complete 3D view.