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Elevated Breast Imaging

3D Mammograms and Breast Cancer Screenings

Breast health is important at Cardinal Points Imaging our caring staff uses the latest mammogram technology to provide comprehensive care from screening to diagnostic breast exams and biopsies.

In addition, every breast study performed at our locations is interpreted by sub-specialized breast radiologists. Their expertise and sole dedication to breast imaging means you can trust the results you receive.

We have five convenient locations that make it easy for you to maximize your personal health by providing same-day appointments and extended weekend options for a breast cancer screening and 3D Mammogram in Raleigh, NC. 

What is a screening 3D mammography exam?

Mammography is specialized medical imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to visualize breast tissue. It aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

Cardinal Points Imaging offers screening and diagnostic mammograms using state-of-the-art 3D mammogram technology.

During a 3D mammogram multiple breast images are taken from different angles producing a series of one-millimeter thick slices that create a 3D image of the breast. This provides greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail, increasing the likelihood of spotting abnormalities and reduces call backs for additional images providing greater confidence in the results. In addition, 3D mammography finds cancers earlier than 2D mammography, when they are more successfully treated and more options for treatment are available. The very low X-ray energy used for 3D mammography is below the FDA guidelines.

Up to 40% of women have dense breast tissue that makes detection of breast cancers more difficult. The mammography results will notify you if you have dense breast tissue. Women with dense breasts may want to consider talking with their doctor about adding an abbreviated breast MRI to their annual screening regimen.

What is a diagnostic 3D mammography exam?

A diagnostic mammogram is performed on the same machine, and in the same manner as a screening mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram is performed on patients who have symptoms such as pain, itching, swelling, palpable lump, discharge, etc. A patient whose screening mammogram detects areas of concern will also have additional images performed as a diagnostic mammogram.

In many cases, a diagnostic mammogram may also be used in conjunction with ultrasound to provide greater clarity of the breast tissue.

What is Breast Density?

While dense breast tissue is perfectly normal – affecting approximately 40 percent of the population – breast density cannot be felt and it is not related to breast size or firmness. It can only be seen on a mammogram.

Breast tissue is considered dense if there is a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat. Fibrous and glandular tissue looks white on a mammogram, as does a possible tumor. This makes it difficult to tell the difference between a tumor and dense breast tissue on a mammogram.

Women with dense breasts should consider talking with their doctor about additional screening exams such as Abbreviated breast MRI

What is a breast ultrasound?

In certain cases, an ultrasound of the breast is performed in conjunction with diagnostic mammography. This exam is non-invasive and uses sound waves, rather than radiation, to produce images. The ultrasound technologist will move a wand coated in gel over the breast tissue to further examine areas of concern. The images produced can provide greater clarity in the evaluation of the breast tissue.

What is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is performed to remove cells from a suspicious area and examine them under a microscope. This is done by the radiologist using a minimally invasive image-guided needle biopsy.

  • Ultrasound guided breast biopsy is performed by taking samples of an abnormality using ultrasound guidance.
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy uses a special mammography machine to help guide the needle to the site of the abnormality. Calcifications and architectural distortion indications will utilize this method as they are better seen with x-ray images produced by the mammography machine.

What is a Breast MRI?

A Traditional Breast MRI is an MRI exam of the breasts taking comprehensive images to screen for, diagnose, and monitor breast cancer. This exam may be used to assess extent of disease in a woman with a newly diagnosed breast cancer.

Traditional breast MRI is also recommended for the following:

  • Recommended as a screening exam in women at HIGH lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. This includes women with a known genetic mutation, a history of radiation to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30, or a calculated lifetime risk of breast cancer greater than 20%.
  • Used to assess breast implant integrity.
  • May be recommended by the radiologist to assess an ongoing breast problem not identified with a mammogram and/or ultrasound.
  • Under these diagnostic conditions, this procedure is typically authorized by insurance.

What is an Abbreviated Breast MRI?

An Abbreviated Breast MRI is an MRI exam of the breasts taking key images that require less time than a traditional MRI. This exam can find breast cancers which may not be found with mammography and/or ultrasound alone. Women with dense breasts and intermediate risk of breast cancer can use this exam in conjunction with a screening mammogram. The abbreviated breast MRI exam is useful in all breast densities but most helpful in heterogeneously & extremely dense breasts. An abbreviated breast MRI finds 200-300% more breast cancers than mammography alone in patients with the described risk factors.

Abbreviated Breast MRI is also recommended for the following:

  • Women with an INTERMEDIATE (above average) lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Women with implants to screen the breasts for cancer, not to assess implant integrity.
  • Women who have been previously treated for breast cancer, if at least 1 year out from treatment. Many women with a personal history of breast cancer are at INTERMEDIATE risk for a future breast cancer.
  • This exam also requires an order from your provider, but will not typically be authorized by insurance, therefore is a self-pay procedure.

Cardinal Points Imaging is proud to be one of the first to offer abbreviated breast MRIs in the Triangle area.

In addition to breast exams, many women may also benefit from a screening bone density exam. Bone loss can be caused by inherent traits, lifestyle choices and by certain health conditions or medications that are taken. Learn more about bone density exams.

What you should know

Answers to frequently asked questions.

The decision to have a mammogram is a personal one and is dependent upon age, family history, the density of breast tissue, and discussion with your physician. Ultimately – it’s your decision – you do not need a recommendation from a physician for a screening mammogram. In terms of age, research clearly shows that annual mammography and breast cancer screen should start at age 40 and it is strongly correlated with significant improvement in survival rates of breast cancer.

Cardinal Points Imaging understands that the cost of a breast cancer screening exam can be a concern. Our rates for both insured and uninsured patients are substantially lower than the same exam performed at a hospital. We believe that price transparency is important so you can be prepared for your financial obligations, if any. Most insurers cover standard screening mammograms at no additional cost to the patient. If you elect to have a 3D mammogram for breast cancer screening rather than a standard digital exam, there may be an additional charge depending upon your insurance. To learn more about what your exam may cost, please click here.

The radiologist will review the Mammogram and provide a diagnostic report that will be sent directly to your provider. The report of your breast cancer screening is typically available to your provider within 24 hours. Many providers plan scheduled time to discuss results with their patients so you could check with their office to see when they will be available to review the information with you.

Prep for your exam

If you have an appointment scheduled, please click here to pre-register, complete forms and review exam preparation instructions. If you have any questions about your visit, please contact the Cardinal Points Imaging Center at (919) 877-5400.