During a FFDM, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a clear plastic paddle. The technologist will gradually compress your breast.
Breast compression is necessary in order to:
- Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized
- Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities are less likely to be hidden by overlying breast tissue
- Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged
- Hold the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion
- Reduce x-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture
To get a variety of images, you will be asked to change positions. It is important that you remain as still as possible. Too much movement increases the risk of blurred images.
This process will be repeated for the other breast. The technologist will let you know if any additional pictures need to be taken. Full field digital mammography is performed on an outpatient basis and typically takes about 30 minutes.
If the screening results show an abnormality, you may need another type of breast evaluation such as ultrasound, 3-D mammogram, or biopsy.