Similar to digital mammography, tomosynthesis has been described as the next generation of digital screening. It’s often referred to as three-dimensional mammography because it provides advanced breast imaging using a low-dose x-ray system and computer reconstruction to create three-dimensional breast images. Like mammography, it helps diagnose and detect breast abnormalities.

Whilst mammography is the best screening breast cancer tool it doesn’t detect all breast cancers. On a case-by-case basis, our specialists may wish to investigate a patient further using breast tomosynthesis.

How is breast tomosynthesis performed?

This is a non-invasive procedure. Your breasts are compressed between two plates and an x-ray tube moves across the plates in an arc formation, capturing multiple images of both breasts from different angles. The two-dimensional images are then reconstructed into three-dimensional images using computer technology. The three-dimensional images help reveal what’s behind, in and around any overlapping breast tissue.


What is 3D mammography?

3D mammography, also referred to as Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), is the latest breast screening technology available at Mercy Breast Clinic. It has been proven to have a higher cancer detection rate and reduced false positives when compared with standard 2D mammogram.

This new technology allows us to review multiple high resolution 1mm images as the X-ray tube moves through an arc over your compressed breast compared to the standard 4 images of 2D mammography. It’s like having a CT scan of the breast but with better resolution and much reduced radiation dose (radiation dose is the same as the standard 2D mammogram).

The patient’s experience of a 3D mammogram is similar to a standard mammogram. The main diff erence is that during the scan, the X-ray tube will move to capture multiple images of the breast from diff erent angles. 3D mammography is performed with the same level of compression and takes approximately the same amount of time as a regular 2D mammogram.

Why may 3D mammography be better for me?

3D mammography prevents overlap of normal breast tissue which can obscure a breast cancer as a breast cancer is “white” on a mammogram just like the rest of your normal breast tissue. It also reduces the finding of “pseudotumors” created by overlap of breast tissue and therefore reduces the need for your radiologist to do extra views.

3D mammography has superior detection of tissue distortion caused by cancers and it is this irregular margin that helps your radiologist diff erentiate your cancer from the rest of your normal breast tissues

3D mammography cost

The cost of a 3D mammogram is not routinely funded by some health insurers and may require an additional payment. Often insurance companies will determine criteria for the 3D mammogram to be eligible for cover. Please check with your insurance provider for further information.