One of the questions often posed by women and by medical providers regarding 3D mammography is about overall safety. Over the last several years, numerous reports, studies and research has come out regarding what we call ionizing radiation, which is defined as radiation consisting of particles, x-rays, or gamma rays with sufficient energy to cause ionization in the medium through which it passes.

While that may not make much sense unless you scientifically inclined, this type of radiation is delivered in x-rays that may be part of an imaging exam such as a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan or a mammogram. To give an example of the radiation dose used for a screening mammogram, we have designed the chart below to give a straightforward comparison.

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Radiation is measured in what is called a millisievert. A millisievert is is a measure of the absorption of radiation by the human body. In the chart above, you see comparisons for 2D mammography, 2D mammography with 3D breast tomosynthesis and average annual millisievert measurements in backgrounds within the United States.

The way we like to make a comparison for 3D mammography: the amount of radiation dose used for a 3D mammogram is equivalent to the radiation exposure a person incurs when flying from New York to California. An important point is that the radiation exposure is well within established safety standards.

With the superiority of 3D mammography in terms of detecting increased breast cancer, decreasing false positive readings and decreasing the number of women who are asked to come back for additional imaging due to uncertain results, it would not be surprising to see the standard of care in breast cancer detection to soon be 3D mammography.

Diagnostic Imaging Services performs 3D mammography at our Metairie – Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Marrero – Avenue C, Slidell and Covington – Highway 21 locations.

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