Diagnostic Mammography

Mammography is a special x-ray examination used to assess breast disease in symptomatic women and as a screening tool in the wider population.


    Mammography can show small cancers up to two years before a lump is palpable, and when combined with FNA or biopsy can determine whether a lump is cancer or benign. Early detection increases the overall effectiveness of cancer treatment. Lake Imaging now offer Mammography, 3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis) and Hookwire localisation.

    Around 10% of all breast cancers will not be identified by mammography alone. Ultrasound is often used to further assess breast tissue and improve detection rates.

    The key difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram is the reason why a mammogram is requested. A screening mammogram is for review of asymptomatic women taken either once a year, or every two years. In women aged 50-69 years, a screening mammogram is the best way to detect unsuspected cancer at an early stage.

    A diagnostic mammogram is used to assess suspected abnormalities, such as a lump, nipple discharge, change in breast size or shape, or implant rupture.

    At Lake Imaging our mammography and ultrasound equipment, and image processors are subject to quality assurance programs to ensure we maintain high standards, for optimal patient care.


    It has been known for some time that breast density can have a masking effect, making it more difficult to diagnose breast cancer on a mammogram.

    However, we now also know that breast density is a marker for a significantly increased risk.

    Many women are already aware of this and may be questioning their breast density. Qualitative reporting of density is no longer enough.

    Lake Imaging is pleased to offer Volpara™ Density Measurement. This sophisticated software program delivers accurate volumetric measurement of breast density, obtained during the diagnostic mammogram. Your referring doctor will now receive notification of breast density in the mammogram report, with a recommendation as to whether supplemental screening may be needed, based on risk.
    Volpara Health Technologies Limited is a leading provider of breast imaging analytics and analysis products that improve clinical decision-making and the early detection of breast cancer. Every day, Volpara software helps clinicians better understand their patients and administrators better understand their practices.

    Volpara Health Technologies Limited is a research, development, and manufacturing company based in Wellington, New Zealand. With a diverse research team led by internationally recognised experts in medical physics, as well as proprietary medical imaging technology covered by multiple patents and trademarks, we apply science to the solving of clinical problems around the world.


    A referral from your doctor and an appointment is required for this examination.

    If you experience tenderness in the breast before your menstrual period, do not schedule the examination during this time. The best time is one week following your menstrual period, unless the examination is urgent. If you have breast implants or require wheelchair access, please advise our staff at the time of making your appointment as we may need to allocate a longer appointment time.

    Please avoid using talcum powder and underarm deodorant on the day of your mammogram, because some products cause an artefact on the mammogram. You can eat and drink normally on the day.

    You’ll be more comfortable if you wear a two-piece outfit for your mammogram. The radiographer will ask you to remove all clothing and from the waist up and wear a gown. You may need to remove jewellery from the chest and neck region.

    Please bring along any previous mammograms so that our radiologist can accurately compare films and assess any changes, since your last mammogram.


    A qualified radiographer will take one or two x-rays of each breast, which will be positioned and compressed between two flat plates, for around 15 seconds. The patient might feel uncomfortable, but compression of the breast tissue improves image quality and shows abnormal tissue more clearly. Occasionally, additional x-rays are taken to further define areas not well seen on the initial x-rays.

    All Lake Imaging radiographers are accredited and licensed by the Australian Institute of Radiography. We follow the guidelines for Quality Control Testing for Digital Mammography (Version 3) set out by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists in August 2012.


    Two experienced radiologists will independently interpret and report on the mammogram.  Your doctor will receive a comprehensive report about the findings.  You will then need to return to the doctor who referred you to discuss your results. Book your follow-up appointment at least two days after your mammogram.

    You can resume normal activity immediately after your examination.


    For mammography, the radiation dose a patient receives is very low. The radiographer will set the equipment for the lowest dose of radiation possible, while still achieving high-quality images. Mammography is generally safe for women with implants, but there is a very small risk that the pressure placed on the implant might cause it to rupture.  Our experienced mammography radiographers will discuss this with you prior to your mammogram.

    If you know you are pregnant or suspect that you might be you should wait until after delivery to have a screening mammogram. If a diagnostic mammogram is needed during pregnancy, the radiation dose is very low and does not affect the developing child. Wearing a lower abdomen lead apron will help reduce radiation exposure to the fetus. Talk to your doctor if you need more information.

  • 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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