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How is contrast-enhanced mammography different from traditional mammography?

Mammography is a well-established imaging technique for breast cancer screening and detection. However, it has limitations in detecting small lesions in women with dense breast tissue. Contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) is a newer imaging technique that uses a contrast agent to enhance the visibility of breast tissue. This article will explain the key differences between traditional mammography and CEM.

Traditional mammography uses low-dose X-rays to create images of the breast tissue. During the procedure, the breast is compressed between two plates to ensure the best possible image quality. The images produced by traditional mammography are two-dimensional, which means that they can miss small tumors or lesions hidden behind dense breast tissue. Additionally, traditional mammography can produce false-positive results, which can lead to unnecessary biopsies or other invasive procedures.

CEM uses a contrast agent, which is injected into the patient's bloodstream before the mammogram is taken. The contrast agent helps to highlight areas of abnormal blood flow in the breast tissue, making it easier to detect cancerous growths. CEM provides a more detailed image of the breast tissue than traditional mammography, which can be especially useful in women with dense breast tissue.

In CEM, the breast is still compressed between two plates, and X-ray images are taken from different angles. The contrast agent accumulates in areas of the breast that have increased blood flow, such as cancerous tumors, making them easier to detect. The contrast agent also allows for the production of three-dimensional images, which can provide a more accurate assessment of the size and location of the tumor.

CEM is generally recommended for women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer or those who have had inconclusive or abnormal mammograms. It can also be used to assess the response to treatment in women with breast cancer.

CEM is a safe procedure, and the risk of adverse reactions to the contrast agent is low. The contrast agent is usually administered through an intravenous (IV) line, and patients may experience mild discomfort at the injection site. Patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids after the procedure to help flush the contrast agent out of their system.

In conclusion, CEM is a newer imaging technique that uses a contrast agent to enhance the visibility of breast tissue. It provides a more detailed image of the breast tissue than traditional mammography, which can be especially useful in women with dense breast tissue. CEM is generally recommended for women who have a high risk of developing breast cancer or those who have had inconclusive or abnormal mammograms. If you have concerns about your breast health, speak to your healthcare provider about whether CEM is an appropriate screening tool for you.


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