The benefits of 3D Mammograms, and the Importance of Getting Yours

JoAnnG_thumbBy JoAnn Geissbuhler, Director of Radiology at Southwest Health

At Southwest Health, we make you our number one priority. And it’s that kind of care and encouragement that saves lives. Take for example Denise Morrissey, of Shullsburg, who never thought she needed a mammogram until the day her primary care provider urged her to take that step and have it done. That encouragement saved her life. We are very honored to be able to share her story with you.

Breast cancer screening in southwest Wisconsin took a giant leap forward recently with the addition of revolutionary 3D digital mammography technology at Southwest Health. The new 3D breast imaging system –the first of its kind in southwest Wisconsin—produces three-dimensional views of breast tissue and helps doctors more accurately identify and classify breast tissue structures to better diagnose breast cancer and to save lives.

What is 3D Mammography?


3D Mammography or Breast Tomosynthesis is an advanced type of mammogram that can offer better cancer detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind. 3D technology has been shown to detect small breast cancers up to 15 months earlier than traditional technology.

“Imagine you’re looking at closed book. You can’t read the words inside. That’s what traditional mammography shows us. Now imagine you are able to open to book, flip the pages, and zero in on the words on every page. That’s the difference that 3D Digital mammography gives us” says JoAnn. 

What are the Benefits?

  • Earlier detection of small breast cancers that may be hidden during digital 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
  • Clearer images of dense breast tissue

Is 3D mammography safe?

YES! Radiation exposure to the breast is very low. The radiation dose for a combined 2D/3D mammography exam is well below the acceptable limits defined by the FDA, and is only a fraction of the level of radiation everyone receives annually from the natural background of being outdoors. There is no evidence that this low level of radiation has any significant effect on the breasts.

What can you expect during your Mammogram?


You will be positioned just like you were for a traditional 2D mammogram. During the 3D part of the exam, an x-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds. No additional breast compression is required and it only takes a few more seconds. The experience will be very similar to mammograms patients have had in the past.

Can I have a 3D mammography anywhere?

We are proud to be the first facility in southwest Wisconsin to provide 3D Mammography. This new technology has only been available in larger cites.

Will my Insurance pay for it?

Medicare covers both 2D and 3D screenings annually. Not all insurance companies are covering 3D at this time, and we suggest you call your insurance company to find out what your policy states. However, the cost to you is reasonably low if insurance does not cover.

How do I sign up for 3D Mammography?


Just make an appointment with your doctor. Once you have your order for your next mammogram, either your practitioner or the mammography technologist will help you decide if 3D is right for you. Together we can discuss the best options for you.

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