What to Expect During Digital Mammography?

Digital Mammography

In Digital mammography, the film of the X-ray is exchanged with solid detectors for converting the X-rays into electrical signals. These detectors are the same as those which are found in digital cameras.

Is the digital mammography procedure painful for women?

Any pain or discomfort during a digital mammography procedure will vary in different patients. Some women can experience a little discomfort as a result of the compression that is applied to the breast. However, most women will be able to tolerate it very well.

Any discomfort that women may feel will be based on the following –

  • The size of the woman’s breasts.               
  • When the exam is conducted with regard to the woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • How skilled the technician is and how the breast is positioned.

The woman can ask the technician about the procedure in detail and clear all the doubts before the actual imaging starts. The technician will explain what to expect in digital mammography as well as why compression is necessary which will help to put the patient at ease. In case there is little pain during the exam, the technician should try different positions for reducing the discomfort.

What to do to reduce any pain during digital mammography?

  • It is important to be still during the entire procedure for getting clear images and avoid repeating any part of the exam.
  • Inform the technician about any history that can make the exam painful like any discomfort during previous mammograms, or if there is any history of fibrocystic breasts.
  • During or just before periods start, there are hormonal changes that can increase breast sensitivity. It is important to make note of this fact before scheduling the mammography appointment.
  • In case of any discomfort after the exam, talk to the doctor about taking any painkillers, if required.

Why is digital mammography required?

Mammography is crucial for screening breast cancer in the early stages. Digital mammography is used to enable the radiologists to capture as well as modify the images so that any anomalies may be seen more easily. This procedure is generally performed in the same way as a standard mammogram. Unlike in the case of film-based mammography, digital mammography will utilize computer-based electronic conductors for displaying a picture of the insides of the breast for clear and most accurate images, which will lead to an accurate diagnosis. The radiologists will review the images and discuss the results with the patients. If any additional assessment, treatment, or biopsy is required according to the doctor, it is better to schedule it on the same day or maximum within a week. Ultrasound and MRI equipment are also available for the assessment of any abnormal masses.

Why are health screening tests necessary for all?

Health Screenings are tests that will look for diseases before a person shows symptoms. Screening tests are able to detect diseases early when they are easy to treat. What tests a person needs will depend on their age, gender, their family history, as well as whether there are any risk factors for a few diseases. For most adults, according to their age, doctors can recommend an appropriate screening schedule for them that will include frequent physical exams, skin tests, body mass index, cholesterol, and even blood pressure screening, immunizations, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, and eye exams. The type of routine health screenings people can need will change with age and also depend on their personal as well as family medical history, and also whether they have risk factors for some diseases. For example, most young adults do not need a regular colonoscopy, but if they have a family history of colon cancer, doctors can recommend the test.

How to prepare for a health screening?

Patients should discuss with their doctor what screening tests are appropriate for them. A discussion with the doctor will help people aware of what screenings are required and also the frequency to get them done. It is important to make note of any queries or doubts to ask the doctor. Discuss with the doctor about the family’s medical history and also talk about any health concerns. Also, make sure to ask the doctor about the advantages and risks of the health screening.


Digital mammography typically uses the same process as traditional mammography in which the breast is compressed for spreading the tissue apart to get an accurate image that is taken by low-dose X-rays. Instead of processing the images on a screen film, digital mammography will use a computer to get a digital image of the breast tissue. This method is accurate and quite fast, and it is easy to share the images between health care providers as well as save them on the patient’s health record. Women are encouraged to go for digital mammography whenever possible.

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