Alegent Health Northwest Imaging

Northwest Imaging is a joint venture between Radiology Consultants and Alegent Health.

Breast Imaging

Radiology Consultants offers both digital screening and diagnostic mammography for the detection of breast cancer.  Digital Mammography is available at all Alegent Health Hospitals.

A screening mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast on a woman who has no symptoms. The goal of a screening mammogram is to find cancer when it is still too small to be felt by a woman or her doctor. Finding small breast cancers early with a screening mammogram greatly improves a woman's chance for successful treatment.

A screening mammogram usually takes 2 x-ray pictures (views) of each breast. Some patients, such as those with large breasts, may need to have more pictures to see as much breast tissue as possible.

A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast in a woman who either has a breast problem (for example, a breast lump, nipple discharge, etc.) or has had a change show up on a screening mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram, more pictures are taken to carefully study the area of concern. In most cases, special pictures are enlarged to make a small area of suspicious breast tissue bigger and easier to evaluate. Many other types of x-ray pictures can be done, depending on the type of problem and where it is in the breast. For example, a diagnostic mammogram may offer a closer look and show that an area that looked abnormal is actually normal. When this happens, the woman goes back to routine yearly screening.

It also could show that an area of abnormal tissue is probably not cancer. When this happens it is common to ask the woman to return to be re-checked, usually in 4 to 6 months.

The group also provides breast ultrasound, ultrasound-guided breast biopsies, cyst aspiration and breast MRI.

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of the tissues inside the breast. A breast ultrasound can show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall, which is hard to study with a mammogram. Breast ultrasound does not use X-rays or other potentially harmful types of radiation.

A breast ultrasound is used to see whether a breast lump is filled with fluid (a cyst) or if it is a solid lump. An ultrasound does not replace the need for a mammogram, but it is often used to check abnormal results from a mammogram.  For a breast ultrasound, a small handheld unit called a transducer is gently passed back and forth over the breast. A computer turns the sound waves into a picture on a TV screen. The picture is called a sonogram or ultrasound scan.

An ultrasound guided breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells—either surgically or through a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle—from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion, but most of a very small lesion may be removed in the process of biopsy.

Image-guided biopsy is performed when the abnormal area in the breast is too small to be felt, making it difficult to locate the lesion by hand (called palpation).  In ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

An ultrasound guided cyst aspiration is a procedure by which the radiologist removes fluid from inside a breast lump. This procedure is guided by ultrasound. The ultrasound produces images of your breast that guide the radiologist in locating the exact area of the cyst. 

Breast MRI of the breast offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound. Women at high risk of breast cancer or who have special breast issues may benefit from the added soft tissue resolution from Breast MRI.