Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-rays to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.
Two recent advances in mammography include digital mammography and computer-aided detection.
Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is a mammography system in which the x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert x-rays into electrical signals. These detectors are similar to those found in digital cameras.
The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special film similar to conventional mammograms.
From the patient’s point of view, having a digital mammogram is essentially the same as having a conventional film mammogram.
Computer-aided detection (CAD) systems use a digitized mammographic image that can be obtained from either a conventional film mammogram or a digitally acquired mammogram.
The computer software then searches for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer. The CAD system highlights these areas on the images, alerting the radiologist to the need for further analysis.