At Atrium Health, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, we provide women and, though rare, men in our communities with the highest quality breast imaging services. We use advanced breast imaging procedures and technologies known to yield the most accurate clinical information, helping our doctors make timely diagnoses and better tailor screening and treatment plans.

Complete, Convenient Breast Care

By trusting us with your breast health, you’ll receive personal and collaborative care, including:

  • Access to a skilled team of doctors specially trained to interpret all types of breast exams and diagnose breast cancers
  • Convenient access to breast imaging services close to home
    • Mobile mammography is also available at many local businesses, medical offices and churches
  • Timely results for diagnostic mammograms and breast ultrasounds
  • Late-evening appointments at many locations
  • A dedicated breast health nurse navigator at certain locations who provides support and education to those newly diagnosed with breast cancer

Our Advanced Technologies

We offer:

  • Digital 3D (tomosynthesis) mammography in each of our breast centers
  • MRI scanner capable of breast imaging and biopsy
  • High resolution 3D breast ultrasound
  • Advanced equipment to offer minimally invasive breast biopsies

Our Breast Services

Mammography takes X-ray pictures of the breast. This specialized test lets doctors see inside the breasts and detect any abnormal areas. There are guidelines for when women should have their first one, so check with your doctor.

Mammograms can be used to:

  • Check for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms of the disease (called a screening mammogram)
  • Look at a lump or other possible signs of breast cancer (called a diagnostic mammogram)

For this test, you will stand in front of the mammography machine. The technologist will help place your breast between two plastic plates and take several pictures. The plates will be tightened to press your breast and make it flat.

3-D mammography (tomosynthesis) is a new type of mammogram that shows cross-sections of the breast. It allows images to be taken of individual layers of the breast tissue; think of it as looking at a book, page by page.

3-D mammography is especially helpful for women:

  • With dense breast tissue
  • Who have a high risk of developing breast cancer

When 3-D breast images are added to a routine mammogram, there is an additional cost that some insurance providers do not cover. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about cost.

Breast ultrasound is a type of imaging that uses sound waves to examine the breast. In some cases, this exam may also be coupled with a diagnostic mammogram.

For this test, you will lie on an exam table. The person doing the ultrasound will place some gel on your breast and use a hand-held device that will move smoothly over your breast to take pictures.

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the breast and surrounding tissue. A breast MRI provides a very detailed exam of the breast.

This test complements mammogram findings, and is often recommended for women.

  • At increased risk of breast cancer and
  • After breast surgery and/or radiation

For this test, you will lie on your stomach with your arms stretched above your head. The person doing the MRI will position each breast to get the best visual picture.

Needle biopsies of the breast may be needed when a breast exam or mammogram shows a lump or other suspicious change in a woman’s breast tissue. To perform the biopsy, your doctor will use a thin, hollow needle – often guided by ultrasound or MRI, to take a small sample of the abnormal tissue and surrounding fluid. Local anesthetic is used to minimize any discomfort.

A few things to keep in mind about biopsies:

  • Needle biopsies generally only take 30 to 45 minutes to complete and the recovery time is far shorter than a traditional biopsy
  • Your medical team will give you special instructions or restrictions, depending on the type of biopsy you’re getting. For example, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications, like aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. In most cases, breast symptoms turn out to be benign (not cancer).
  • Your doctor will explain the results.

 

Preparing for Breast Imaging and Testing

Your doctor will provide information to help you prepare for your specific breast exam.

In general, you should:

  • Wear comfortable clothing, preferably a two-piece outfit with a top that opens in the front.
  • Be prepared to undress, usually from the waist up, and wear a gown.
  • Remove jewelry, hair clips, eyeglasses and any other metal objects.
  • Follow any instructions that are given to you. For example, you may be asked to avoid using deodorant or lotions before your imaging test.
  • Arrive before your scheduled exam time to register and fill out any forms.
  • Consider asking a relative or friend to join you to lend support.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or could be pregnant.
If you have any questions, be sure to call your doctor.

 

What to Expect During and After Breast Imaging or Testing

It depends on the specific breast exam, but generally:

  • The technologist (the person who will perform your test) will help position you to get the best pictures and to make you as comfortable as possible.
  • You’ll need to remain as still as possible to avoid blurring the pictures.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath for brief periods during the test.
  • Your doctor may want part of the test (breast MRI) to be done with a special dye called contrast that helps him or her see certain areas more clearly. Most of the time, the dye will be injected into a vein in your hand or forearm before, or part way through, the exam.
  • You can resume all of your usual activities after the test is over.
A radiologist (a doctor who uses medical imaging techniques to find or treat diseases or injuries) will look at the images and send a report to the doctor who ordered the exam. Your doctor will help explain what the results mean for you.

 

For a needle biopsy, a small incision is made in your breast, and it will take a few days to heal. Here's how to stay comfortable and help your body heal quickly:

  • Wear an ice pack in your bra for at least the first four hours.
  • Keep your incision area dry for the first 24 hours. After that, you can bathe. But be careful not to loosen the steristrips (medical tape used to close the small incisions that help the skin heal).
  • After 24 hours, remove the top layer of the dressing, but leave the steristrips in place.
  • Wear your bra all the time, including while sleeping, for two days.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for 48 hours
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for discomfort. Do not take aspirin for 48 hours.
  • Remove the steristrips five days after your biopsy.
  • Watch for excessive bleeding, redness near the incision site, pain or fever. Call your medical team if any of these symptoms occur. Some discomfort and bruising at the incision site is normal.
As always, be sure to follow the instructions given to you by the doctor or nurse. This will include how to best take core of the incision site.

 

For More Information

If you have any questions, it's best to contact the doctor who ordered your breast imaging test or procedure.

If you need to schedule an imaging test, please call 1-704-512-2060.

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