Imaging

If a tissue biopsy is needed it will often be carried out with the help of a mammogram or ultrasound scan, with local anaesthetic, to accurately target the area of concern.
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If you are attending a new patient clinic, the biopsy will be performed the same day. If you are attending a follow-up appointment, the biopsy will be arranged for a date in the near future.

The imaging services we offer are:

  • Mammography
  • Ultrasound Scanning
  • Breast Tomosynthesis
  • MRI scanning
  • Image-guided tissue biopsy
    • Fine needle aspiration
    • Core Biopsy
    • Vacuum Assisted Biopsy

After your imaging, we will be in touch with your results either by post or at a scheduled follow-up appointment with your Consultant’s team.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a specialised X-Ray of the breast. It is the same procedure that is used in the NHS Breast Screening Programme. The breast tissue is positioned between X-ray plates and then “squashed” to get the best picture possible. This happens in two different directions for each breast and the pictures are then read by members of our team of expert breast radiologists. Mammograms are only offered if you are older than 35, as younger women have breast tissue that is too dense to accurately see things within. All our mammograms are stored digitally.

What is an Ultrasound Scan (USS)?

An Ultrasound scan does not use X-rays. It is uses the same type of sound-wave equipment that ladies are offered to monitor their babies during pregnancy. It is the main type of imaging that you will be offered if you are under 35. If you are older and you have come to clinic after feeling a lump, you may be offered a mammogram plus an ultrasound scan. Thick clear jelly will be used between the probe and your skin to help produce a clearer image. You will be able to wipe this jelly off at the end of the examination. If a biopsy test is needed this can often be done at the same time.

What is Tomosynthesis?

Tomosynthesis is a new breast diagnostic procedure and we are one of only a few units in the country that are able to offer this at the moment. This procedure is similar to a mammogram but is able to produce 3D images of the breast. It uses X-rays taken in many angles to produce multiple images of the breast tissue. These thin slices are then put together using a computer and the Radiologist is able to “look through” the breast tissue on a computer screen. This test may be used if there is some uncertainty as to what has been seen on standard mammograms to help reach a diagnosis.

What is an MRI scan?

Only some patients will need an MRI scan, it is not routinely used for breast assessment. If you need an MRI scan the reasons for this will be discussed with you in clinic. It does not use X-rays, but strong magnets. If you need an MRI scan an appointment will be sent out to you for a different day, and the procedure is performed in the main part of the hospital. Biopsies of breast tissue can be taken using the MRI scan if needed. More detailed information would be given to you when you attended for the scan. You would be asked to return to the clinic in the next few weeks after your scan for your results.