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3D Mammography
Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT)

3D mammography patient3D Mammography is now at Mercy Women’s Center

The area’s leader in breast cancer detection has added the most advanced technology available today.

Screening for Breast Cancer

Successful treatment and survival rates for breast cancer patients are dramatically affected by early detection. Annual screenings after the age of 40 and clear pictures allow our Women’s Center team to detect cancer early and save lives.

The addition of the Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® 3D Mammography to our 2D digital mammography provides another technologically advanced option for women, and provides physicians with an added dimension when examining images of the breast. The result is a more comprehensive and clearer view of the entire breast structures, such as milk ducts, fat and ligaments.


3D mammography allows doctors to examine the breast tissue one layer at a time. The exam uses digital breast images and stacks them into “slices,” building a three-dimensional mammogram. A good analogy is to think of the pages in a book. If you look down at the cover, you cannot see all of the pages. But, when you open it up, you can go through the entire book page-by-page to read everything between the covers and see the whole story. 3D mammography is designed with the same concept in mind.

Although all women could benefit from the 3D technology, it is particularly effective for women with dense breast tissue and those with an increased risk for breast cancer. It is performed in conjunction with a conventional 2D mammogram.


3D mammography offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Improvement in overall cancer detection rates; research studies are finding 20-40% more invasive cancers than conventional 2D mammography alone.
  • Better visualization of masses, distortions and asymmetric densities.
  • Significant reduction in recall rates by up to 40%. The frequency of a radiologist recalling patients for a “second look,” for either a mammogram or ultrasound, is reduced due to visualizing tissue more clearly.

The Exam

A 3D mammogram is very similar to a traditional mammogram. Just as with a digital mammogram, the technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. A 3D mammography exam may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram or may be used by itself for a diagnostic mammogram.

During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images in just seconds. You doctor is able to view your breast tissue in one millimeter layers. Instead of viewing all of the complexities of your breast in one flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue one “slice” at a time.

There is no additional compression required with 3D mammography and it only takes a few seconds longer for each view. The technologist will view the images at their computer work station to ensure they have captured adequate images for review by a radiologist, who studies them and reports results to either your physician or directly to you.


Most insurance companies will pay a large portion of the cost of the 3D mammogram. Patients may incur an additional $40 out-of-pocket cost for the exam.

Read more frequently asked questions about 3D mammography.

To schedule, call (319) 861-7778.