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.


    A mammogram is a low dose x-ray examination of the breasts. Mammography has been shown to be a sensitive tool in the early detection of breast cancer because it can show small changes in the breast, even before they can be felt by you or your Doctor.  FNA or biopsy can determine whether a lump is cancer or benign. Early detection increases the overall effectiveness of cancer treatment. Lake Imaging offer Mammography, 3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis) and Hookwire localisation.

    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 50-74 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.

    Breast tomosynthesis is technology that adds to the sensitivity of a traditional mammogram by allowing the radiologist to look at the breast in thin 1mm layers to produce a 3D image of the breast.

    Breast tomosynthesis has been shown to significantly increase the detection of breast cancer, even for women with very dense breasts. Our modern equipment uses increasingly small x-ray doses to obtain high quality images.

    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.

    Although mammograms do detect most breast cancers, they do not detect all of them. It is important that you continue to examine your breasts each month and have a regular check with your Doctor.


    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.

    Please notify our staff if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have breasts implants at the time of making your appointment.

    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.


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

    During your mammogram, the breast is briefly compressed so that the breast tissue may be clearly visualised by the radiologist.  This only takes a few seconds and, whilst some patients find this uncomfortable, it should not be painful. Our radiographers are specially trained to ensure that it is as comfortable as possible.

    During tomography, the x-ray arm sweeps over the breast taking multiple low dose images in a few seconds.

    Most mammogram examinations take 15 minutes to complete.

    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.


    When your examination is complete, the images will be examined by the radiologist. Sometimes further mammographic images are required or an ultrasound is then performed.

    In most cases, you will be told your results on the same day of your appointment and we will send a report to your referred Doctor. 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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