Mammography uses low-dose X-rays to image the breast. Inova has invested in digital mammography to give you the most advanced technology available. Digital mammography uses a process similar to digital cameras. The clear, detailed images are processed quickly. They are also easy to view and to share with other clinicians who need to see your test results. All Inova facilities offer mammography services, and most offer digital mammography.
Learn more below about the benefits of digital mammography and the various of ways to detect and diagnose breast cancer.Schedule Your Mammogram
Mammograms and Other Diagnostic Tests
Mammography is a safe and effective low-dose X-ray of the breast used to help diagnose breast diseases and abnormalities. The major advantage of mammography is it can identify problems at a very early and treatable stage. Breast cancer, for example, can be discovered as early as two years before it is evident during a physical examination.
Before calling to make an appointment, please request a doctor's order from your primary care physician, gynecologist or other women's health provider.
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Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to visualize breast cysts, solid nodules or lymph nodes. The resulting image is referred to as a sonogram. Breast ultrasound does not use X-rays.
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Breast MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves and computers to create high quality images of the breast.
Breast Biopsy (Need Biopsy / Surgical Biopsy)
Biopsy involves removing tissue from the breast for further evaluation. A physician requests a biopsy to obtain the most detailed and accurate information possible about your breast tissue. Having a biopsy does not mean you have breast cancer.
Most breast biopsies today are minimally-invasive procedures with a minimum of discomfort and recovery time. A special hollow needle is used to withdraw a small tissue sample from an abnormal mass or lump in the breast. The breast is first cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic. A specially trained clinician views live-time images of your breast on digital mammography or ultrasound equipment to precisely locate the lump or tissue to be biopsied. The tissue sample is drawn up into the needle and removed. No stitches are required.
The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. Ask your physician how soon the test results will be available to you.
Stereotactic breast biopsy is another version of minimally invasive breast biopsy. It is an excellent choice for diagnosing suspicious areas identified by a mammogram that are not palpable with the fingertips.
In some cases, a physician may need to perform a surgical biopsy with a local or general anesthetic. The physician makes an incision and removes the tumor or tissue from the breast that requires further study. Stitches and a longer recovery time may be needed.
Learn more about biopsy from our online health library:
Breast Self-Exam (BSE)
BSE is not a replacement for a mammogram and physician's exam, but regularly practiced self-exams allow a woman to become familiar with the texture of her breasts and make it easier to detect changes.