What is included in a diagnostic mammography exam?

Updated: Oct 17, 2016
  • Author: Nagwa Dongola, MD, FRCR; Chief Editor: Peter Eby, MD  more...
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Diagnostic mammography is performed in symptomatic women, such as when a breast lump or nipple discharge is found during self-examination or when an abnormality is found during screening mammography. Diagnostic mammography uses specialized views to determine exact size and location of breast abnormalities and to image the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. Typically, several additional views of the breast are acquired and interpreted during diagnostic mammography. Thus, diagnostic mammography is slightly more expensive than screening mammography. In most cases, however, diagnostic mammography confirms that potential abnormalities found at screening mammography or physical exam are benign.

A diagnostic mammogram consists of supplemental views tailored to the specific problem. These supplemental views can include latero-medial (LM) and medio-lateral (ML), exaggerated CC, magnification, spot compression, and others. Special skin markers are sometimes used to identify certain lesions, skin abnormalities, the nipple, and other areas.

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