Offering Expert Evaluation and the Latest Technologies to Accurately Diagnose Breast Diseases
For many women, a visit to the breast imaging center can be a source of anxiety. But when you choose a team that's specially trained in breast health — and an accredited Breast Imaging Center of Excellence — you can have greater confidence in your results, and ultimately, greater peace of mind.
With SLUCare Breast Radiology, you're connected to experts within an academic medical practice, where we offer the latest technologies for breast health, such as 3D mammography/tomosynthesis and the first 3D, tomosynthesis-guided prone biopsy table in the U.S. This allows us to diagnose breast conditions earlier, with greater accuracy and reduces the need for surgical biopsies, while also reducing the risks, costs and recovery time associated with surgery.
In addition, our team takes the time to evaluate your risk for breast cancer during your appointment. All Breast Imaging Center patients are asked to complete a risk assessment to help identify factors that may increase your personal risk of developing breast cancer. Through careful evaluation of your results, we determine whether you may benefit from supplemental screening with breast MRI or breast ultrasound and/or a consultation with our breast surgeon or genetic counselor. Our goal is to provide complete breast care for every patient at every risk level for a lifetime.
This expertise and our ability to offer less invasive breast procedures means you get a higher level of care with SLUCare Breast Radiology than you'll find in most community hospitals and imaging centers.
Mammograms and Other Breast Imaging Services
3D (tomosynthesis) mammograms produce clearer, more detailed breast images than traditional mammography. This helps breast radiologists detect abnormalities at an earlier stage, when they’re more treatable, especially in women with dense breast tissue. SLUCare Breast Radiology offers 3D mammography for all patients, whether for routine screenings or diagnostic mammograms.
A breast ultrasound exam gives doctors a noninvasive method of examining breast tissue for abnormalities
and to evaluate for breast cancer. This may be used as a standalone test or in combination
with a mammogram to get a closer look at dense breast tissue, to diagnose a lump or
other concern. SLUCare Breast Radiology offers breast ultrasound for both screening
and diagnostic purposes.
For some patients — newly diagnosed with breast cancer, at high risk for breast cancer, or with breast implants, for example — breast MRI may be recommended because it offers highly detailed breast images. These images show radiologists a level of detail not visible with other imaging exams. Breast MRI can reveal cancers and non-cancerous abnormalities, as well as implant rupture. It may be used in conjunction with mammograms, as part of a breast screening, or to diagnose breast disease.
Ruptured silicone breast implants may cause a variety of symptoms: the breast may appear swollen, misshapen or hard. If you experience signs of rupture, it’s important to schedule an exam with your physician. An imaging test may be ordered to confirm implant rupture. SLUCare Breast Radiology offers no-contrast MRI exams as an effective method of detecting implant rupture. Our radiologist will share your results with your physician to determine next steps in your treatment plan.
When an imaging exam reveals a suspicious area in the breast, a core needle biopsy may be recommended. In this procedure, the breast is numbed with a local anesthetic. Your SLUCare breast radiologist will use mammogram, ultrasound or MRI images to guide a needle to the affected area and withdraw very small samples of the abnormal tissue. The tissue samples are then sent to pathology for evaluation and diagnosis. These core needle biopsies are highly accurate and can be performed with minimal pain and downtime.
Ultrasound-guided biopsy – When a lump is discovered in the breast, the radiologist may use an ultrasound-guided biopsy to take a sample for further evaluation. In this type of biopsy, the radiologist uses ultrasound during the procedure to guide the needle to the affected area. Following the biopsy, the radiologist will also place a marker in the affected area so it is easily identifiable if additional testing or surgery is necessary. Samples are then sent to the pathology lab for evaluation and diagnosis, and results are typically available in 2-3 business days. Mammogram images are typically taken after the biopsy.
Stereotactic biopsy – To obtain a sample of breast tissue from a suspicious area that cannot be detected by ultrasound, frequently with breast calcifications, a stereotactic biopsy may be recommended. During this procedure, the patient lies face-down on a special 3D tomography table with an opening for the breast. The breast is numbed before the radiologist uses a special machine to identify the targeted area, then remove the sample tissue. Following the biopsy, the radiologist will also place a marker in the affected area so it is easily identifiable if additional testing or surgery is necessary. Samples are then sent to the pathology lab for evaluation and diagnosis, and results are typically available in 2-3 business days. Mammogram images are taken after the biopsy.
MRI-guided biopsy – If an MRI identifies an abnormality not seen with other types of images, an MRI-guided biopsy may be recommended. During this procedure, the patient is guided into the MRI scanner, where the area to be tested is identified. The radiologist numbs the breast, then uses a needle to remove samples of tissue from the abnormal area. Following the biopsy, the radiologist will also place a marker in the affected area, so it is easily identifiable if additional testing or surgery is necessary. Samples are then sent to the pathology lab for evaluation and diagnosis, and results are typically available in 2-3 business days. Mammogram images are taken after the biopsy.
Axillary node biopsy – When evaluating for breast cancer or other cancers, the radiologist may also check for enlarged lymph nodes under your arm. If enlarged lymph nodes are found, a lymph node biopsy may be recommended. When the radiologist performs a core needle biopsy on the lymph node, a marker may be placed to guide the surgeon to the area if additional procedures are necessary. Samples of tissue from the biopsy are sent to the pathology lab for evaluation and diagnosis. Results are typically available in 2-3 business days. Mammogram images may be taken after the biopsy. If cancer cells are found, doctors can then create an appropriate treatment plan for your medical needs.
If a mass appears to be a cyst, a cyst aspiration may be performed. During this procedure, the radiologist uses a local anesthetic to numb the breast, then uses ultrasound to guide a very thin needle into the breast lump or mass. The contents are then withdrawn through the needle. If the fluid collected causes the lump to disappear, it is determined that the lump is a cyst and is not cancer. If no fluid can be withdrawn from the lump, an ultrasound-guided biopsy is typically performed at that time.
Breast infections may occur for a variety of reasons. If a breast infection progresses into an abscess or fluid collection, it may be necessary to perform a needle aspiration to drain the infection. Our breast radiologist can perform this procedure as needed to remove fluid from the breast. This is done in conjunction with the referring physician, as a course of antibiotics is typically indicated. In addition, a breast infection may require surgical intervention. Our radiologists work closely with SLUCare breast surgeons and refer patients as needed for more complex conditions.
If you are scheduled to have a breast lesion removed surgically, you may first visit our breast radiologist for a localization procedure. Using imaging equipment, the radiologist will locate the lesion, then mark the area by inserting a magnetic “seed” to signal the location for the surgeon. The marker will be removed during the surgery, along with any tissue to be examined. Rarely, a wire would be placed in the breast for localization.
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