During a breast tomosynthesis exam, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and gradually compressed with a clear plastic paddle. This compression of the breast is necessary during this method of imaging in order to:
- Even out the thickness of the breast for better visualization
- Spread out the tissue in a manner that makes it harder for abnormalities to hide
- Make the breast tissue thin enough only a lower dose of radiation is needed
- Keep the breast still so clear pictures can be taken
For some patients, breast compression can be uncomfortable. This is why it’s a good idea to avoid scheduling your screening mammogram close to your menstrual cycle when breasts can be especially tender.
It is important that you remain very still while the x-ray tube moves around the breast capturing images. Moving increases the chances of blurry images.
The radiologist may ask you to wait for a short while after the examination until it is determined that no additional images are needed. In most cases, a 3-D mammogram only lasts about 30 minutes.