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Mammogram

How To Prepare

If you have previously had a mammogram done at another clinic, have the results sent or bring them with you to your examination.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are or might be pregnant. A mammogram is an X-ray test with exposure to low-dose radiation and is not done for routine screening during pregnancy.
  • Are breast-feeding. A mammogram may not provide clear results in breasts that contain milk.
  • Have breast implants. Breast implants require a modified mammogram method.
  • Have previously had a breast biopsy. Knowing the location of scar tissue will help the radiologist read your mammogram accurately.

On the day of the mammogram, do not use any deodorant, perfume, powders, or ointments on your breasts. The residue left on your skin by these substances may interfere with the X-rays.

If you are still having menstrual periods, you may want to have your mammogram done within 2 weeks after your menstrual period ends. The procedure will be more comfortable, especially if your breasts become tender before your period starts.

How It Is Done

A mammogram is done by a radiology technologist or mammogram technologist. The X-ray pictures (mammograms) are interpreted by a doctor who specializes in evaluating X-rays (radiologist).

You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture. You will need to take off your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a cloth or paper gown to use during the test. If you are concerned about an area of your breast, show the technologist so that the area can be noted.

You usually stand during a mammogram. One at a time, your breasts will be placed on a flat plate that contains the X-ray film. Another plate is then pressed firmly against your breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Very firm compression is needed to obtain high-quality pictures. You may be asked to lift your arm. For a few seconds while the X-ray picture is being taken, you will need to hold your breath. Usually at least two pictures are taken of each breast: one from the top and one from the side.

You may be in the mammogram clinic for up to an hour. The mammogram itself takes about 10 to 15 minutes. You will be asked to wait (usually about 5 minutes) until the X-rays are developed, in case repeat pictures need to be taken. In some clinics and hospitals, X-ray pictures can be viewed immediately on a computer screen (digitally).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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