Mammography at the Diagnostic Imaging Women’s Center

Scheduling:  447-2912
File Room: 495-6702
File Room Fax: 447-2510

Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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What to Expect
Preparing for your exam
Choosing the right facility
Video: Importance of Mammograms

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Located within the beautiful new women’s area of the Diagnostic Imaging Department, St. Peter's mammography suites are furnished with full-field digital technology. Only St Peter’s provides all imaging, analysis and care in one place; that's continuity of care. 

Digital mammography
This is a low-dose X-ray exam of the breast that aids in the early detection of breast cancer.  It provides incredibly sharp, clear images that are instantly seen by the technologist to ensure a high quality picture.  Careful study is made of each image including the use of Computer Aided Detection.

What to expect during a mammogram
When you arrive for your screening mammogram you can expect a fairly quick procedure.  You will be shown to a private dressing room and given time to undress from the waist up and put on your cape.  Each woman is provided with a comfortable robe for her privacy and comfort.  We will then proceed to the exam room where a series of images are taken.  You can expect your technologist to guide you through the process and explain why compression is necessary. Your technologist will also work with you to find a comfortable pace and ensure that you are working together at all times.  This procedure normally takes less than 20 minutes. [return to top]

Preparing for the exam

  • Wear a two piece outfit to easily remove clothing from the waist up.
  • Do not wear lotion, powder or deodorant.  These may cause artifacts on the images.
  • Try to schedule an appointment at the end of your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less sensitive.
  • If you have sensitive breasts consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever an hour before your exam, but avoid aspirin products.
  • If you have had a previous mammogram at another facility please ask them to send us your most recent images. Your new radiologist will need these images for comparison. [return to top]

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Choose the right facility for your mammogram

  • St. Peter’s has a complete breast health team on staff with a combined  130 years of mammography experience.
  • Mammography is available 11 hours a day, five days a week (7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday) for your scheduling convenience.
  • St. Peter's mammography technologists are all accredited though the American Registry of Radiological Technologists.
  • St Peter’s radiologists are Board Certified by the American College of Radiology.
  • Radiologists are on-site at all times.
  • A certified nurse navigator in breast imaging and cancer care is on site to assist with questions about breast health.  She also coordinates all clinical services so there is no long wait for appointments, diagnosis and treatments. [return to top]

Understanding Continuity of Care

Only St Peter’s provides all imaging, analysis and care in one place.

This ensures that all of your testing is being compared and considered when making a final diagnosis.  Centralized care allows for easier communication between your doctors, timelier diagnosis and a suite of additional services on-site:

  • Diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound results given before you leave
  • Breast MRI and MRI biopsies
  • On-site pathology and lab
  • Only facility in Helena to offer ultrasound, Stereotactic and MRI-guided breast biopsies [return to top]

Frequently asked questions

Who should have a mammogram?
All women beginning at age 40 should have an annual mammogram.  Your physician may suggest earlier or more frequent mammograms if certain risk factors or symptoms exist.

How is a mammogram performed?
During a mammogram, the breast is compressed between an X-ray plate and a plastic cover.  The exam causes pressure but will only last a few seconds.

When will I get results?
Your exam will be read and to your doctor within 24 hours.  You will receive a letter in the mail informing you of your results within 3 to 5 days. Diagnostic mammogram results are provided to you before you leave.

Why do I need another mammogram?
If a breast abnormality is found or confirmed with mammography, additional imaging may be performed.  Some areas that look unusual on the standard mammography images are often shown to be normal on the spot views.  Your doctor may also order some of these tests:

Ultrasound: An imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of your breast.

MRI: This test uses a powerful magnet to make detailed pictures of your breast.

Biopsy:  A test in which tissue or fluid is removed from your breast to find out if there is cancer.

Why is digital mammography better?
Digital mammography images are stored on the computer allowing the radiologist to enlarge and manipulate the image to give the doctors a better view. 

Are there different types of mammograms?  

Yes, screening and diagnostic.

A screening mammogram consists of four views—two views of each breast. The technologist takes the pictures, checks them for quality, and then you leave. With a diagnostic mammogram, you start with four standard views, and then supplement them with additional views, a physical exam, and ultrasound and MRI as needed. So a diagnostic mammogram is for women who are having a problem such as a lump or unusual nipple discharge or pain. A diagnostic mammogram is generally read by the radiologist right after it has been done; ideally the woman does not leave the radiology facility until she has an answer about what is causing her breast problem. Usually the outcome is that everything is fine, but there is a higher incidence of finding cancer in that situation than in a screening situation.

What if I have breast implants?
Women with breast implants should still have regular mammograms. If you have breast implants be sure to tell your facility that you have them when you make your appointment.  Imaging enhanced breasts requires extra views and more time is allowed. [return to top]

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The Importance of Mammograms
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