3D Mammogram

A 3D mammogram, also called tomosynthesis, is an X-ray that creates a series of images of the breast that allows radiologists to view breast tissue layer by layer.  This type of mammogram improves detection of cancer with fewer patient callbacks.

Our Capabilities

Our Breast Center is a double-accredited center—meaning you always have access to the latest, evidence-based care

Compassionate Care Starts Here

Click below to learn more about where you can find compassionate care.

Our breast imaging experts focus solely on breast-related screenings and diagnosis. We offer experienced, deeply compassionate and personalized care. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 513-584-PINK.

Help Along the Way

Answers to Your 3D Mammogram Questions

A 3D mammogram, also called tomosynthesis, is a mammogram system that allows the X-ray tube to move in an arc over the breast. This creates a series of thinly sliced images through the breast that enables radiologists to view breast tissue layer by layer. In comparison to conventional mammography, which creates a single two-dimensional image, 3D mammography improves detection of cancer with fewer patient callbacks. This revolutionary, state-of-the-art technology was approved by the FDA in February 2011.

3D mammograms are used in addition to a screening mammogram as a tool to detect early breast cancer in women who don’t have symptoms. Sometimes, 3D mammograms are used in addition to or in place of a diagnostic mammogram for the evaluation of breast symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.


During your mammogram, a radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a platform and compressed with a plastic paddle.

Breast compression is necessary in order to: 

  • Even out the breast thickness so all tissues can be visualized. 

  • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities are less likely to be obscured by overlying breast tissue. 

  • Allow the use of a lower X-ray dose, since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged. 

  • Hold the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion. 

  • Reduce X-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture.

Your 3D mammogram image will be done first, immediately followed by the 2D mammogram. The additional 3D mammogram images take approximately 4 seconds to obtain. The FDA has only approved use of 3D mammogram in addition to conventional mammograms at this time.

You will be asked to change positions between images, and the process will be repeated for the other breast. You must hold very still while the X-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image.

The examination process should take about 30 minutes.

  • Wear a two-piece outfit so you can stay in your regular clothes from the waist down.

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts because these can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.

  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.

Board-certified radiologists, who specialize in breast imaging, will interpret your mammography results. You can expect your results to come in the mail up to three weeks after your exam. You will receive a phone call if additional imaging is required to evaluate a possible abnormality. A report will also be sent to your referring doctor.

Don’t be alarmed if you are asked to come back for additional imaging. Being called back for more testing does not mean that you have cancer. In fact, less than 1% of women called back for additional tests have breast cancer. Being called back usually means an additional image or ultrasound needs to be done to look at an area more clearly.


  • Earlier detection. By minimizing the impact of overlapping breast tissue, 3D mammography can help improve breast cancer screening and detection. Studies have shown a 30% increase in breast cancer detection.

  • Fewer callbacks. 3D mammography helps show the difference between harmless abnormalities and real cancers, leading to fewer callbacks and less anxiety for women. Studies have shown reduced patient callback rates by 20–30%.

  • Easier to read. Radiologists can better see the size, shape and location of an abnormality.

A 3D mammogram uses radiation, just as a 2D mammogram does. The amount of radiation is very small and below government safety standards. However, due to the additional radiation dose when adding 3D mammography to a conventional mammogram, 3D mammography is not currently offered to women with larger breasts who may require more than the standard two images per breast. For the same reason, screening 3D mammography is not offered to women with breast implants.

Initial 3D mammography images, like 2D images, are not usually enough to determine the existence of a benign or malignant disease with certainty. If a spot seems suspicious, your radiologist may recommend further diagnostic exams.

Reading mammograms can be difficult because a normal breast can appear differently for each woman. Because some breast cancers are hard to see, a radiologist may want to compare the image to previous exam views.

While mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer available today, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. Also, a small portion of mammograms indicate that a cancer could be present when it is not; this is called a false positive. 3D mammography decreases the chance of a false positive but does not eliminate the possibility altogether.

Why UC Health

Experience and Expertise

Science-Driven Care

At UC Health, we’re known for turning the latest scientific discoveries into care you can receive today. We’re pioneering new and exciting studies, like identifying breast cancer in women before symptoms appear.

Cincinnati’s Breast Center Experts

Our Breast Center is a double-accredited center—meaning you always have access to the latest, evidence-based care. Most importantly, we are dedicated to empowering you to make the best choice for your breast health.

Partner with Us

Referring Physicians: Success and Provider Toolbox

We are committed to providing optimal care to your patient and open communication with you. We understand that as a referring physician, you need to be kept informed on your patient’s progress. That’s why we set up a toolbox to share detailed information about your patient’s health with you.

For referral information, call:

Contact Us

At UC Health, we lead the region in scientific discoveries and embrace a spirit of purpose – offering our patients and their families something beyond everyday healthcare. At UC Health, we offer hope.