Tomosynthesis (3-D Mammography)

Sharp offers tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography. This diagnostic tool can uncover breast abnormalities unseen in traditional mammograms, allowing doctors to detect breast cancer earlier.

Benefits of Tomosynthesis
Tomosynthesis uses high-powered computing to generate a 3-D reconstruction of the breast, providing clearer, more accurate views of breast tissue. Like any organ, breasts are three dimensional — made of tissue, milk ducts, fat and blood vessels at varying depths. With tomosynthesis, small cancers are better detected behind dense tissue, and overlapping tissues can't fool us into thinking there is an abnormality when there is not.

Because 3-D tomosynthesis provides a layer-by-layer view of breast tissue, it is especially effective for women with dense breasts, which can hide cancers and other abnormalities behind less fatty tissue. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. women have dense breasts, and most don't know it.

How Does It Work?
Women scheduled for a 3-D mammogram can expect a similar experience to a traditional screening. Your breast is positioned on an X-ray machine in the same way as a traditional mammogram. Instead of taking pictures of your breast from two angles — up and down, and left and right — 3-D mammography takes multiple images of each breast from many angles. A computer then produces a 3-D image of your breast tissue in one millimeter slices, providing greater visibility of your breast tissue.

How Much Time Does It Take?
The tomosynthesis procedure is no different than having a conventional mammogram. Your typical appointment will be no more than 30 minutes.

Is 3-D Mammography Safe?
Tomosynthesis does involve more radiation compared with standard 2-D mammograms, but the combined dose remains well under government guidelines.

What Happens After My 3-D Mammogram?
A board-certified radiologist reads your 3-D mammogram. The radiologist's report is then delivered to your doctor. Women should expect to receive their screening mammography results by mail within a week.

When Should I Receive a 3-D Mammogram?
Annual mammograms should begin when a woman turns 40. This recommendation is supported by respected medical societies including the American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology, American Society of Breast Surgeons and others.

Request a 3-D Mammogram
Tomosynthesis screenings take place inside the Sharp Memorial Outpatient Pavilion's Outpatient Imaging Center, a designated Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. Women interested in receiving a 3-D mammogram should talk to their primary care physician or call the center at 858-939-5100.