At Intermountain Healthcare, we know that Comfort Matters, even when you may not be visiting one of our facilities under the best of circumstances. The Intermountain Imaging Services team will do everything we can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your mammogram. If you're cold during the test, we'll get you a warm blanket. If you don't understand an instruction, we'll stop and gently explain it to you. From the time you schedule your imaging test to the time you receive your results, we want your experience with Intermountain Imaging Services to be as comfortable as possible.
How long will it take?
Most screening mammograms take 10-15 minutes to complete. Diagnostic mammograms take approximately 30 minutes to complete because it involves more X-rays in order to obtain additional pictures or views.
What happens during the test?
A mammogram is done by a radiology technologist or mammogram technologist. The X-ray pictures (mammograms) are interpreted by a radiologist, a physician who specializes in evaluating the images.
You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the X-ray picture. You will need to take off your clothes above the waist, and you will be given a cloth or paper gown to use during the test. If you are concerned about an area of your breast, show the technologist so that the area can be noted.
You usually stand during a mammogram. One at a time, your breasts will be placed on a flat plate that contains the X-ray film. The X-ray plate will feel cold when you place your breast on it. Another plate is then pressed firmly against your breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Very firm compression is needed to obtain high-quality pictures. A mammogram is often uncomfortable but rarely extremely painful. If you have sensitive or fragile skin, or a skin condition, let the technician know before you have your exam. You may be asked to lift your arm. For a few seconds while the x-ray picture is being taken, you will need to hold your breath. Usually at least two pictures are taken of each breast: one from the top and one from the side.
What happens after the test?
A radiologist, a doctor with special training in reading the results of mammograms and other imaging tests, will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor. Mammogram results are usually available within 10 days. It is not uncommon to be asked to return for another test so an additional picture of an area in question can be obtained. Most abnormalities found during a mammogram are not breast cancer, but many women who have regular screening mammograms need more tests to investigate any abnormalities found during a mammogram. If an area of your breast tissue appears to be a concern during a mammogram, other tests may be done.