Digital breast tomosynthesis, also referred to as tomo or DBT, is an advanced, FDA-approved
3-D mammography screening tool for breast cancer. In addition to the traditional
2-D mammogram, tomosynthesis offers physicians an additional 3-D view performed
with a 4-second sweep of the X-ray tube to give 1-mm-thin images of the breast.
All mammograms performed at UF Health Breast Imaging
Centers, including tomosynthesis, are interpreted by radiologists on staff
with the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of tomosynthesis?
- The 3-D view affords radiologists the ability to detect breast cancer earlier in
- Tomosynthesis gives a clearer view in helping the radiologists distinguish size,
shape and location of possible abnormalities in the breast.
- This clearer view of the breast to the radiologist means fewer false positives,
resulting in fewer call-backs for additional mammograms, ultimately leading to less
anxiety for the patient.
Why is tomosynthesis a better test for me?
The addition of the 3-D mammogram view of tomosynthesis enables the radiologist
to view small tumors or abnormalities which may typically be hard to view in dense
breast tissue with the traditional 2-D mammogram. The combined efforts of the traditional
2-D mammogram in conjunction with the 3-D tomosynthesis view has shown to reduce
call-backs for additional testing by about 30 percent and may find 15 percent more
breast cancers. [Source: Hologic Selenia® Dimensions® clinical studies presented
to the FDA as part of Hologic's PMA submission that compared Hologic's Selenia Dimensions
combo-mode to Hologic's 2-D FFDM]
Who can have tomosynthesis?
Tomosynthesis is not a stand-alone view—it comes as an addition to the standard
2-D mammogram ordered by your primary care physician. Currently the large majority
of diagnostic mammograms ordered can have the 3-D tomosynthesis mammography added.
The additional service best serves those women who have dense breast tissue and/or
abnormalities which need a clearer targeted view.
How do I make an appointment for tomosythesis?
You will need a mammogram prescription from your healthcare provider. Prior to your
mammogram, it is important to have a breast physical exam and to discuss any new
breast findings or problems with your primary care physician. Your physician should
be aware of your breast history, including previous biopsies, surgeries and/or hormone
use, as well as any family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.
To make an appointment at the UF Health Breast Imaging Center, call 904-383-1024.
Prior to making an appointment, please be aware of the following:
- The optimal time to have tomosynthesis done is when your breasts are less tender,
usually one week following your period.
- Please notify our scheduling department and technologists if you might be pregnant
or if you have breast implants.
- On the day of your mammogram, do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under
your arms or on your breasts as these hygiene products may interfere with your mammogram.
- Prior to your exam you should explain to your technologist any breast-related symptoms
- For the exam you will be asked to remove your clothes above the waist as well as
any jewelry that may interfere with the X-ray picture. You will be provided a dressing
- The tomosynthesis mammogram is usually performed in a standing position.
What does tomosynthesis equipment look like?
The Hologic's Selenia Dimensions combo-mode is identical to standard digital mammogram
equipment with the exception of a tube head which arcs over the breast during a
4-second exposure. The breast is compressed similar to or with slightly less pressure
than a standard 2-D mammogram, assisting with patient comfort.
How much does tomosynthesis cost?
Tomosynthesis is FDA approved as of February 2011 and currently there is no standard
billing code for this exam. In the meantime, UF Health Jacksonville will bill your
insurance for the 2-D mammogram and use an additional miscellaneous code for 3-D