New Technology


What is tomosynthesis?

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), or 3-D mammography, is a new FDA approved imaging modality.

Conventional 2-D mammography produces a single flattened image of the breast making it difficult for the doctor to detect small cancers. Breast tomosynthesis minimizes the impact of overlapping breast tissue during imaging because the camera moves over the breast taking images from multiple angles. These images are combined to create a 3-dimensional rendering of the entire breast. At this time, breast tomosynthesis is performed, along with a standard mammogram on the same scanner.

How is DBT different than traditional digital or 2-D mammography?

While traditional digital mammography is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it is only a two-dimensional picture of the breast. Since the breast is often composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat, when X-rayed, findings may be obscured. The overlapping tissue in the image may result in difficulty viewing tiny “spots,” called micro-calcifications and other subtle signs of early cancer.

What are the benefits and advantages of tomosynthesis?

  • Early detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden during 2-D mammography.

  • Greater accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities. 

  • Fewer unnecessary biopsies or additional tests. 

  • Greater likelihood of detecting multiple breast tumors, which occur in 15% of breast cancer patients.

How does it work?

  • The X-ray arm sweeps in a small arc over the breast taking multiple breast images in seconds.

  • Very low X-ray energy is used so exposure is about the same as that of a traditional mammogram.

Why do we do both 2-D and 3-D?

  • To compare results.

  • Segmental and clustered calcifications are more easily seen with 2-D because they are multi-sliced with 3-D. Calcifications are sometimes the first sign of early cancers.

  • 3-D optimally demonstrates masses and distortion.

Do all hospitals or breast care centers offer Digital Breast Tomosynthesis?  No.

The Betty Torricelli Institute for Breast Cancer is one of only a few places in the United States that offer this advanced imaging modality as part of its comprehensive breast-imaging services.

Does my insurance cover this additional exam?

There is no reimbursement at this time, but we do not charge the patient an additional fee for this exam because we believe it is to your benefit to have additional information. 

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