About breast imaging
The breast centre in the Mater Private radiology department uses both digital mammography and ultrasound imaging to diagnose and treat patients with breast symptoms. The service is led by consultant radiologists with sub-specialist experience in breast imaging.
Mater Private Network uses advanced mammography technology - breast tomosynthesis - to capture 3D imaging of the breast tissue. The addition of tomosynthesis to standard mammography imaging increases the sensitivity of the test.
A small number of patients may be called back for further investigation following mammography or ultrasound for additional mammography imaging, ultrasound and possible biopsy.
What you should know
- Please inform us when making your appointment if you have breast implants.
- Please inform us if you have any mobility issues.
- Let the mammographer know if there is any chance you might be pregnant.
- You will be given a gown to change into prior to your scan.
- You will only need to remove clothing and jewellery from the chest area.
Mammography uses low doses of x-ray to detect small changes in breast tissue. The breast is compressed between two plates and a number of images are captured from different angles. The compression is necessary to ensure high-quality imaging is produced - this may cause brief discomfort.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency soundwaves to capture images of the breast tissue. The sound waves are sent out from a small probe which is gently placed directly on the skin surface. These waves pass through the tissue without any sensation and they reflect back an image which is displayed on a monitor attached to the ultrasound machine. An ultrasound scan can be carried out safely during pregnancy as no x-rays are involved.
For most outpatient breast centre appointments, there are no precautions to follow after your scan. You can eat and drink normally, drive and can return to work immediately after your appointment if necessary.
Your imaging will be reported by a consultant radiologist specialising in breast imaging. If you have had prior imaging in another hospital or clinic, please allow time for these images to be retrieved for comparison purposes. The results will be sent directly to your referring doctor.
The dose of radiation used in a mammogram is very small. The benefit of having a mammogram exceeds the small risk attached to exposure to medical radiation. Tomosynthesis involves an additional small radiation dose.
Ultrasound is considered a very safe scan as it uses sound waves, not radiation. An ultrasound scan can be carried out safely during pregnancy as no x-rays are involved.
Frequently asked questions
The Specialist Breast Centre is located on the ground floor in Mater Private Hospital. Enter through the main entrance and follow signs for the x-ray department. Here you will check-in at main x-ray reception and then be escorted to the Specialist Breast Centre. If you require assistance, please ask at main reception.
We aim to see all patients promptly, although sometimes there may be unavoidable delays. It is possible you may need to spend several hours at the breast clinic.
Wear comfortable clothes. A separate top is recommended (rather than a dress), as you will need to take your top and bra off for tests and physical examination. Avoid wearing talcum powder, deodorant or perfume, as they may interfere with some tests. You are welcome to bring a relative or friend with you. If you are returning to the clinic we would recommend you bring a friend or relative (please review our visitor guidelines).
When you check in you will be asked by the receptionist to confirm your personal contact details. A clinical breast care nurse specialist will be available if you wish to speak to them.
Depending on your age and symptoms, you may have a mammogram or a breast ultrasound scan. Some people will have both tests preformed.
After a mammogram or ultrasound, the doctor may decide to take a sample from the lump, either by a core biopsy or fine needle aspirate.
If you attend the Triple Assessment Clinic you will usually get the results of the mammogram and ultrasound on the same day. However, if you have a core biopsy or fine needle aspiration your results will need to be discussed at the next multidisciplinary meeting, so an appointment time will be given to you to return for the results.
If you have attended for a mammogram only, the results will available with your general practitioner (GP) after three working days. We appreciate this is a stressful time for you and aim to process your test results as quickly as possible.