What is mammography ?
It is an x-ray examination of the breast. A special x-ray machine is used to perform this test.
How should I prepare myself ?
There is no preparation required. Powder should not be used under the armpits as it may give rise to artifacts on the pictures.
How is it performed ?
You will be asked to disrobe, a trained personnel will then take pictures of the breast (atleast 2 views) from different angles. To get a clearer picture the breast may be compressed by a soft touch paddle to obtain a clearer picture.
How useful is it ?
Mammography is primarily used as a screening tool as it can detect cancers at an early stage, even before they may be palpable by hand.
Mammography remains the gold standard among the imaging modalities of the breast due to its overall accuracy, relative simplicity, and low cost. Every woman from the age of 40 with a significant breast problem should ideally have a mammogram. Mammography should be performed even in the presence of a physical finding that appears benign (not cancerous). Mammography could be undertaken even in the presence of a clear clinical diagnosis of breast carcinoma, as it helps to clarify the exact position of the tumour, extension of tumour outside the palpable mass and the presence of multiple areas of cancer as well as the status of the opposite breast.
Is it 100 % accurate ?
No test is 100 % accurate and this holds true even for mammography. If a doubt exists on the diagnosis, this test can be combined with sonography (sono-mammography), or may be used to localise a lesion (tumour) by a special wire technique to enable a core biopsy.
Any risks or contra indications ?
There are no absolute contra indications to mammography, patients with a pacemaker can be examined, provided caution is observed while compressing the breast; also patients with silicone and other types of prosthesis can be examined.