RAPA is committed to providing our patients with the best diagnostic imaging tools available including digital mammography, dedicated breast ultrasound, breast MRI, and computer-aided detection.
Additionally, our imaging tools facilitate accurate needle biopsies when you need definitive answers.
If performed annually as recommended, screening mammography is the key to detecting breast cancer early and saving lives. Women 40 years of age and older with no symptoms of breast disease, should schedule their screening mammogram appointments annually. A physician referral is not required for this exam. However we must have the name of your physician to send your results.
Why annually? Compared to annual exams, if women get their mammograms every other year, 30% of breast cancers will go undetected. One third fewer women will die from breast cancer if they get annual mammograms. Additional information can be found Here on the Mammography Saves Lives website.
Your screening mammogram consists of routine views that will be reviewed after you leave. If your screening mammogram shows a possible abnormality, you will be called back for a diagnostic mammogram (see below). Most of these will turn out fine, often due to overlapping tissue looking like a possible abnormality.
While a screening mammogram is encouraged each year for women who do not have significant breast symptoms, your doctor may order a diagnostic mammogram if you are experiencing a problem. A diagnostic mammogram should be ordered by your doctor for any worrisome lump, changes in the breast skin, focal pain, spontaneous nipple discharge (clear or bloody), or if you have a personal history of breast cancer. It is also recommended for your first mammogram after a biopsy or procedure. Diagnostic mammography may also be performed if your screening mammogram demonstrates a possible abnormality. Patients with a benign appearing finding on their mammogram may be asked to return in 6 months for a diagnostic mammogram to assess stability.
The type and number of mammographic views taken will be customized to your situation. Any additional mammographic views and ultrasound will be done at the time of your diagnostic mammogram visit.
Breast MRI is a sophisticated technology that uses a computer, magnetic field and radio waves instead of x-rays to produce images of the soft tissues in the body. This non-invasive procedure helps our board-certified physicians to better evaluate the breast in special circumstances. When used in conjunction with screening and diagnostic mammography, it can provide valuable information for the detection and characterization of breast disease.
If MRI is used, it should be in addition to, not instead of, a screening mammogram. While an MRI is more likely to detect cancer than a mammogram, it may still miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect. MRI also has a higher false positive rate (where the test finds things that turn out to not be cancer), which would result in unneeded biopsies and other tests if performed on a large portion of women.
Ultrasound Guided Biopsy
An ultrasound-guided biopsy is a technique most often used to guide a breast biopsy when a breast abnormality is visible on ultrasound.
You will lie on your back or turn slightly to the side. The ultrasound probe is used to locate the lesion. Local anesthetic is injected to ensure that you will be comfortable. The radiologist will then create a small nick in the skin through which the biopsy needle will be inserted, and several samples of tissue will be obtained for evaluation. A tiny metallic marking clip may be left at the biopsy site so that it can be easily relocated for surgery or follow up, if needed. We will provide you with an ice pack and post biopsy care instructions.
A stereotactic breast biopsy allows for a needle biopsy to be performed on lesions which are better seen on mammography than on ultrasound. This type of biopsy utilizes x-ray images (mammograms) of the breast tissue to guide the biopsy needle to the area of interest. Stereotactic biopsies are most commonly performed on tiny breast calcifications; but can also be utilized on breast masses in certain situations.
This minimally invasive procedure requires you to be positioned lying face down on a specially designed table used specifically for breast biopsies. Your breasts are positioned through an opening in the table and placed in compression (less than we use for a regular mammogram). We will then clean the skin and inject a local anesthetic. A tiny incision less than a quarter of an inch is made to allow insertion of the biopsy needle. The radiologist will remove several samples of tissue through this incision. A tiny metallic marking clip may be left at the biopsy site so that it can be easily relocated for surgery or follow up, if needed. We will provide you with an ice pack and post biopsy care instructions.
An MRI-guided biopsy is guided in real-time by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and is useful when an abnormality is best seen on MRI.
You will be positioned face down on your stomach and your breasts will be positioned into a cushioned opening containing a special breast-imaging coil. Using computer software, the radiologist will determine the position and depth of the lesion for biopsy. Local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it and contrast material is given in your vein. When the tissue sampling is complete, a tiny metallic marking clip may be left at the site of biopsy, so it can be easily located for surgery or future follow up, if needed.
Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive tool using high-frequency sound energy used to evaluate specific areas of concern – such as a breast lump felt by a patient or physician or an area of concern seen on a mammogram. Breast ultrasound does not replace the need for mammography in women old enough to have mammograms.