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Digital Mammography

Digital mammography scanners at UPMC Imaging Services use x-rays to produce detailed images of the breast, allowing for quicker results and more accurate diagnoses.

Digital mammography is similar to a traditional mammogram except it collects x-ray images on a digital detector and stores them on a computer, rather than using film.

Digital Mammography Benefits Versus Standard Mammography

Digital mammography produces quicker results and better images than traditional, film-based mammography tests.

Benefits Features
  • Faster

By using a computer to collect the images digitally, our state-of-the-art digital mammography systems:

  • Cut exam time in half
  • Require less development time, leading to faster results
  • Allow your medical images to safely be stored and easily sent electronically to your doctor
  • More precise treatments and fewer repeat exams

Digital mammography:

  • Produces better images and has a higher sensitivity to abnormalities, allowing for more precise diagnoses
  • Can be manipulated to correct images for under- or over exposure, eliminating the need for some women to undergo repeat mammograms

Preparing for Your Digital Mammography Test at UPMC

On the day of your exam:

  • Do not apply deodorant, talcum powder, lotion, or perfume near your breasts or under your arms.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take a pain medicine, like ibuprofen, to relieve post-test discomfort.
  • Wear comfortable clothing so you can easily remove your shirt.
  • Bring copies of previous mammograms and reports with you. If you have them done in the same facility each time, they will have results of prior years. The doctor can compare the old images to the new ones to evaluate any changes.

What to Expect During Your Digital Mammography Test

Before the exam starts:

  • Describe any breast problems to the technologist
  • Remove any jewelry


  • The digital mammography technologist will position you in front of a special x-ray machine, which has a platform to place your breast on.
  • The technologist will adjust the height of the platform, allowing for one breast to be lifted and placed between digital detectors, which collect the digital images.
  • The plate is brought close to the platform and compresses the breast, allowing for a clearer image of the breast tissue.
  • Two pictures of each breast are taken.
    1. You will face toward the platform, which produces an image looking down at the breast.
    2. You will stand beside the machine, which produces a side view image of the breast.
  • The two x-rays are repeated on the other breast.

In addition to these four digital pictures of the breast, extra images may be needed if you have implants or if the doctor is looking at a specific spot more closely.

The exam may cause some discomfort, but the technologist will be standing by to help comfort you.

After Your Digital Mammography Test

A board-certified radiologist interprets your high-quality digital mammography. Then, your test results are delivered to your doctor via our state-of-the-art computer system.

If your images are ever needed, they can be accessed by any UPMC hospital or facility at any time.

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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