Contrast Enhanced Mammography (CEM)


CEM is a special type of mammogram that uses contrast dye containing iodine (similar to a CT scan) injected into an arm vein. This dye makes it easier to find some breast cancers that may not be visible on a standard mammogram or ultrasound.


  • WHAT IS CONTRAST ENHANCED MAMMOGRAPHY (CEDM)

    A contrast enhanced mammogram is a special type of mammogram that uses contrast dye containing iodine (similar to a CT scan) injected into an arm vein. This dye makes it easier to find some breast cancers that may not be visible on a standard mammogram or ultrasound.

    WHY DO I NEED A CEDM?

    Your doctor may recommend you have CEDM for:

    • evaluating a breast lump
    • breast cancer screening if you are at increased risk, or have dense breasts
    • breast cancer follow-up
  • HOW DO I PREPARE FOR CEDM?

    There is no special preparation required for CEDM. It is best to keep well hydrated beforehand and only eat lightly because some patients may feel mild nausea after the contrast dye.

    Please inform our booking staff if you have kidney problems or are diabetic.

    You may be more comfortable wearing a 2-piece outfit because you will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and wear a gown.

  • WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY?

    Your examination will be performed by a female technologist who has specialised in mammography. She will explain the procedure to you, and may ask you some questions about your symptoms and past history.

    You will be asked to complete a questionnaire and sign a consent form. Our technologist will then place a small tube in the arm of your vein so that contrast dye can be given.

    During the mammogram, each breast is briefly compressed for a few seconds.  Whilst some patients find this uncomfortable, it should not be painful. Our technologists are specially trained to ensure this is as comfortable as possible.

    As the contrast dye is given, you may feel a warm sensation which spreads through the body and a metallic taste in the mouth. This is normal. Please let the technologist know if you have any pain in your arm or feel unwell.

    During the 3D component, you may notice the x-ray arm sweep in an arc, taking multiple low-dose images in a few seconds.

    Most CEDM take 15 minutes to complete. You may be asked to wait briefly whilst your images are checked.

  • AFTER A CEDM

    WYou will be asked to wait briefly whilst your images are checked. Sometimes further mammogram images are required, or an ultrasound is then performed. This is not uncommon.

    If you have had no reaction to the dye, the tube in your arm will be removed, and a bandaid appliced. You can remove this when you get home.

    It is important to drink 6-8 glasses of water after CEM to help clear the contrast dye from your kidneys.

    Your CEM will be reported by a specialist breast radiologist, which can take some time because there are many images to look at and compare. Results are therefore not usually available immediately. We will send a report to your referring doctor.

    Please ensure you have an appointment with your doctor to discuss these results.

    WHEN DO I GET MY RESULTS? 

    Your CEDM will be reported by a specialist breast radiologist, which can take some time because there are many images to look at and compare. Results are therefore not usually available immediately. We will send a report to your referring doctor.

    Please ensure you have an appointment with your doctor to discuss these results.

  • PATIENT SAFETY

    CEM is a safe procedure. Patients who have CEDM are exposed to slightly more radiation than a normal mammogram, but this is still within official dose recommendations.

    Some patients may have a reaction to the contrast dye. This is uncommon and usually very mild, such as itchiness or hives. Rarely, a reaction can be severe, such as shortness of breath or facial swelling. Our staff are specially trained to treat these symptoms if they occur.



  • WHAT IS 3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis)

    3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis) is new breast imaging technology that has been proven to improve the accuracy in diagnosis of breast cancer. It is performed as part of a diagnostic mammogram examination. In addition to the standard mammographic views, a specialised view (tomographic) is taken to produce 3-D images. Tomographic view is completed within seconds from a single sweep of the x-ray arm, creating a series of detailed images which together make up the 3D imaging of the breast.

    For the tomographic view, the x-ray arm will move in an arc above the breast for a short time. Some women may experience discomfort with compression; however, if you experience pain during the mammogram you should inform the radiographer. You can also ask for the procedure to stop at any time.

  • BEFORE 3D Mammography

    We recommend that you advise the radiographer if you have sensitive breasts, they will work with you to make sure that the mammogram is as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, compression of the breast is essential to ensure an accurate image and minimise the amount of radiation used.

  • AFTER 3D Mammography

    After the routine views of your breast have been obtained the radiographer will ask you to wait while they are examined by a radiologist to ensure that all the images needed have been obtained.

    A breast ultrasound is often requested as a complementary test at the time of the mammogram or at a later date as a means of gathering more information for a complete examination.


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