Q&A with Sara Neuberger, Lead Mammography Technologist

Memorial Medical Center recently upgraded their radiology department with 3D mammography. Our new 3d mammography machine, known as the Siemens Mammomat, utilizes up to 30% less radiation without compromising image quality. Here, our lead mammography tech gives the latest recommendations on when a woman should get a mammogram and some of the benefits of 3d mammography.

Why should women get a mammogram?
Routine screening mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible, when it is the most treatable. Screening aims to find breast cancers before they are large enough to be detected in a clinical exam. Mammography is a fast procedure (about 20 minutes), discomfort is minimal for most women, and most of all, it can save your life.

There’s been a lot of new recommendations out there about who should get a mammogram. What’s the latest recommendation?
The American College of Radiology recommends annual mammograms for women age 40 and older. There is no defined upper age limit as to when mammograms stop being beneficial to the patient and should be considered as long as the woman is in good health and is willing to undergo additional testing if an abnormality is detected. Breast lumps always require a mammogram and/or other tests regardless of age and gender. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t respect age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status or a healthy life style.

What’s the different between 2d and 3d mammography?
3D mammograms, also known as tomosynthesis or “tomo,” use the same x-ray technology as regular “2D” mammograms. The procedure is the same from the patient’s point-of-view, however during the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over the breast, taking multiple images. A computer then uses these images to produce a layered 3D image of the breast tissue. This provides greater detail and allows the radiologist to see “inside” the breast layer by layer to find cancers earlier than ever.

What makes MMC’s 3D mammography machine unique?
Our new mammography suite has a spa like feel with wall panels that display soothing pictures combined with lighting and relaxing ambient sounds. The mammography machine makes the invisible visible. We have the first tomography unit that has a 50 degree sweep, compared to other machines that only allow 15 degrees. We have upright 3D/HD biopsy capability on the unit as well, which makes the process of a biopsy quicker and more comfortable for the patient. It has the latest in breast tomography technology that allows for a tomographic breast image to be made into a 2D image, therefore reducing patient exposure by eliminating the need for double exposure.

Does insurance cover the cost for 3d mammo?
Patients have the option of choosing between a conventional 2D mammogram and a 3D mammogram. There are a growing number of insurances that cover 3D mammography, so we recommend checking with your insurance company before coming to your appointment.

If you are interested in scheduling a 3d mammogram or touring the suite please call 715-685-5415. We’d be happy to give you a tour and answer any questions that you might have about receiving a mammogram, right here in the place we love. Or, learn more about our radiology services.