Breast & Women's Imaging Procedures


Bone Densitometry (DEXA Scan)

A DEXA scan is an examination that detects early bone loss, typically in the spine or hip, by measuring bone mineral density with a low dose of radiation. The procedure is painless and takes 15 minutes.

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Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the internal structures of the breast to visualize breast cysts, nodules or lymph nodes. Although breast ultrasound is an excellent focused breast exam, it is not appropriate for screening and cannot be substituted for mammography.

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Breast Wire/Dye Localization

Breast wire/dye localization involves the insertion of wire into a problem area followed by the injection of dye to guide and mark the area for removal.

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Cyst Aspiration

Usually diagnosed with ultrasound, cysts are fluid collections in the breast. Occasionally, if a cyst is very large or painful, aspiration of the cyst is requested. Following administration of local anesthesia a small needle is used to drain fluid from the cyst. The procedure takes about 10 minutes.

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Ductogram (Galactogram)

A ductogram is used to evaluate certain types of nipple discharge. A very tiny catheter is inserted into the duct and contrast is infused into the duct. The contrast helps to identify abnormalities within the duct. Mammographic images of the duct are then obtained. The procedure takes thirty to sixty minutes.

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Mammography (Screening and Diagnostic)

Mammography uses an X-ray to detect early breast cancers. While under compression the breasts are imaged in multiple planes. Compression of the breasts helps to show subtle abnormalities and decreases the dose of radiation to the breasts.

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Needle Localization

Needle localization is performed prior to breast surgery, needle localization is necessary when the surgeon is unable to feel the breast abnormality. A small needle is placed into the area of abnormality. After the radiologist is certain that the needle is in the correct position, a wire is placed through the needle. Mammographic images are then obtained and sent to the operating room with the patient.

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Stereotactic Core Biopsy

A stereotactic core biopsy is an outpatient procedure used to sample abnormal tissue identified on a mammogram. During the procedure, the breast is compressed similar to a mammogram. Following local anesthesia, a small nick is made in the skin of the breast and a needle is inserted to obtain multiple samples of breast tissue for laboratory analysis. The entire procedure takes between 30 and 40 minutes.

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Ultrasound-Guided Core Biopsy

An ultrasound-guided core biopsy is another method of sampling abnormal breast tissue. Following the administration of local anesthesia a small needle is placed in the abnormal tissue and several samples of tissue are removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The procedure usually takes between 30 to 45 minutes.

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Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration

Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration uses ultrasound to locate a problem area, followed by insertion of a small-gauge needle to area to withdraw cells for pathologic evaluation.

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Other Breast Procedures


What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a special type of X-ray imaging exam used to create detailed images of the breast. Mammography uses low dose X-rays; high contrast, high-resolution film; and an X-ray system designed specifically for imaging the breasts. Mammography plays a major role in early detection of breast cancers, which, in turn, increases the chances of successful treatment and survival.

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Are mammograms painful?

Mammograms are generally not painful but can be uncomfortable for some patients due to the amount of compression required to place the breasts in the equipment necessary for filming. The quality of your mammogram is greatly dependent on compression of the breast. Compression decreases breast motion that can cause blurry images and flattens the breast so that all of the tissue can be visualized in the image. The total X-ray dose to the breast is also greatly reduced by good breast compression. If you feel discomfort during your exam, please inform your technologist. Discomfort may also depend on what time of the month the exam is being performed since some women experience breast tenderness during menstruation.

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How often should I have a mammogram?

Beginning at age 40, women should have a mammogram every year. Patients at high risk of breast cancer, especially those with a strong family history of breast cancer, should consult their doctor about beginning annual mammograms prior to age 40.

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Do I need an order for a yearly screening exam?

You can get an order for the mammogram from your primary care provider or book it yourself at your mammography center. It is important to go to the same center every time, since the old films are available there and direct comparison is essential for accurate diagnosis.

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What should I do if I am having a problem with my breasts?

You should first contact your primary care provider, who can provide you with an order for a diagnostic mammogram, or you may call our breast health specialists at 404-778-PINK to discuss your concerns.

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Other Procedures

Are interventional procedures painful?

Interventional procedures include cyst aspirations, fine needle aspirations, core biopsies and breast localizations. Local anesthesia is administered to the site to limit the amount of discomfort. Minimal discomfort may be experienced.

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How long will it be before I can return to work after having an interventional procedure?

Usually the next day, unless you are having an excisional biopsy or surgery.

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Are there any restrictions to my activities following a procedure?

We ask our patients to refrain from any strenuous exercise and avoid any heavy lifting for approximately 24 hours.

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How long does it take for my doctor to get the pathology results from my procedure?

Usually between five and seven working days. These results are sent to your referring physician and are not sent to the Breast Imaging Center.

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First-time patients are requested to bring to their appointment any previous mammograms that have been performed elsewhere. This facilitates our ability to review changes in the breast and provide final results as quickly as possible. Patients can expedite the process of the first visit by filling out the necessary patient information from in advance of the appointment. Please click on the form below, print and fill out the form and bring to your appointment.

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Schedule an Appointment

For more information, contact Emory HealthConnection℠ by calling 404-778-7777 or 1-800-75-EMORY from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (Monday-Friday).


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