Digital mammography

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Digital mammography images of the breasts; mediolateral oblique view

Digital mammography is a specialized form of mammography that uses digital receptors and computers instead of x-ray film to help examine breast tissue for breast cancer.[1] The electrical signals can be read on computer screens, permitting more manipulation of images to theoretically allow radiologists to more clearly view the results.[1][2] Digital mammography may be "spot view", for breast biopsy,[3] or "full field" (FFDM) for screening.[1]

Digital mammography is also utilized in stereotactic biopsy. Breast biopsy may also be performed using a different modality, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

While radiologists had hoped for more marked improvement, the effectiveness of digital mammography was found comparable to traditional x-ray methods in 2004, though there may be reduced radiation with the technique and it may lead to fewer retests.[1] Specifically, it performs no better than film for post-menopausal women, who represent more than three-quarters of women with breast cancer.[4]

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against digital mammography.[5]

Digital mammography is a NASA spin-off, utilizing technology developed for the Hubble Space Telescope.[6]


As of 2007, about 8% of American screening centers used digital mammography. Around the globe, systems by Fujifilm Corporation are the most widely used.


In the United States, GE's digital imaging units typically cost US$300,000 to $500,000, far more than film-based imaging systems.[4] Costs may lower as GE begins to compete with the less expensive Fuji systems.[4]