3D Mammography

This information is useful for adults
Mammography technician Rhona Hall prepares a fake patient for a 3D mammogram. ​

Mammography technician Rhona Hall prepares a patient for a 3D mammogram.

Credit: Robert A. Lisak

Just like a three-dimensional photo is more detailed and lifelike than a 2D image, digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT)—or 3D mammography—gives radiologists a clearer view of breast tissue. And that's why this new technology has rapidly become an essential imaging tool that enhances a doctor's ability to detect early breast cancer. With breast cancer, earlier detection leads to earlier treatment, less aggressive treatment options and better outcomes

Thanks to 3D mammography, radiologists can view breast images in "slices," which essentially allows them to see straight through tissue layers and makes it less likely they’ll miss an early sign of cancer. Unlike with 2D mammograms, the 3D technology also makes it easier for radiologists to detect breast cancer that is masked by overlapping fibroglandular tissue. Research shows 3D mammography is up to 40 percent better at detecting invasive breast cancers. 

“DBT or 3D mammography is more accurate than conventional 2D mammography,” says radiologist Regina Hooley, MD, a Yale Medicine breast imaging expert. “It improves interpretation of mammograms and will likely entirely replace conventional 2D mammograms in the future.” 

At Yale Medicine, we already have made this conversion. We perform 3D and 2D mammography simultaneously for both screening and diagnostic purposes at our seven breast imaging sites located in New Haven and Fairfield Counties.