From Our Experts  |  May 12, 2017  |  Susan Kennedy, MD

How long does a screening mammogram take? How about 30 minutes or less?

Many women put off having a screening mammogram because they feel they don’t have the time.  At Wake Radiology, a mammogram — even a 3D exam — only takes about 30 minutes from check in to exam completion.

Dr. Susan Kennedy, one of our breast imaging radiologist, helps explain exactly what to expect during your yearly mammogram appointment.

What to Expect

When you arrive for your screening mammogram, you will check in at the front desk – just like any other doctor’s appointment. A certified technologist will call you back to a dressing room where you’ll be able to change into one of our pre-packaged cloth gowns. We think it’s important to use cloth gowns, not paper so you’re covered and comfortable during the procedure…and so your gown doesn’t rip.

Mammogram Options

Wake Radiology recommends 3D mammograms and this screening is available at all of our breast imaging offices. 

3D Mammogram in 30 Minutes or LessBefore the exam begins, a certified mammography technologist will join you in a private exam room. She will explain the mammogram procedure and answer any questions you may have. She will help position your breast onto the platform where the images will be taken. You may be asked to raise your arm or lean into the machine. Once in proper position your breast will be compressed for a few short seconds while the technologist quickly captures an image. As soon as the image is captured the compression will be released. Compression is an important part of any mammogram because it helps to spread out the breast tissue so the radiologist can see through the tissue better. 

A 3D mammogram involves taking multiple images in an arch over the breast. This provides more, detailed images with greater clarity. Since 3D images display your breast tissue in layers, our breast imaging radiologists are able to look through the scans similar to moving through pages in a book.

Studies have shown an increased detection rate of breast cancers in 3D mammograms over a traditional 2D mammogram. In fact there are many breast cancers that are only seen on a 3D mammogram. 3D technology has revolutionized traditional breast imaging. 

After the exam is complete, the technologist will escort you back to your dressing room where you’ll change clothes and are free to go. There is no check out.  A breast imaging radiologist will then review your mammogram images and compare them to any previous studies. Wake Radiology makes every effort to send all normal results to patients within 7 business days of having the exam.

Tips to Prepare for Your Mammogram

There are several things patients can do to ensure Wake Radiology captures quality images and the mammogram exam is as easy as possible.

  • Avoid wearing lotion, powder, deodorant or perfume on the day of your mammogram. These products can cause spots on the images. Wake Radiology provides deodorant to all of our patients after their procedure.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit, not a dress. Since you’ll wear a cloth gown into the exam room, you’ll only need to undress from the waist up.
  • Bring your insurance card. When you check-in for your mammogram, we’ll collect your information and file a claim directly to your insurance company. Did you know that more and more insurance companies are now covering 3D mammograms? Check out the latest announcement from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Don’t Take Our Word

Hearing from other patients about having a mammogram may also be helpful and make you more comfortable. A special thanks to all of the patients who share their feedback to us!

“I have been getting mammograms at Wake Radiology for years. What I like most is that when I have a scheduled appointment that is when I am seen. I never have to sit around in the office waiting my turn. After my paperwork is filled out, I hardly take a seat before they call me back. The technologists are kind and make me feel comfortable.” – Deborah, Wake Forest

“The appointments are kept on time. It is a quick in and out. People who do the mammogram are great and the office personnel are efficient and pleasant.” – Janice, Garner

“The technologist who did my mammogram was fast and efficient! She made the process as comfortable as was possible.” – Donna, Wake Forest

“The people at the front desk are always professional and helpful. The mammogram technologists have been uniformly excellent, handling the equipment expertly and kindly and professionally conducting the mammogram. I don’t recall ever having to wait more than 5 minutes past my appointment time to be called for the mammogram, which also has been done remarkably quickly.” – Lydia, Chapel Hill

“The staff is so polite and kind. Most of the time, I have been called back for the mammogram within just a few minutes of my appointment time. For my last appointment, I was in and out within 15-20 minutes.” – Laura, North Hills

“My appointment was at 5:15, I arrived at 4:55. They checked me in early, I filled out paperwork, and they took me for the scans early. I was out the door PRIOR to the appointment time. Also, the receptionist in the diagnostic mammogram area was EXTREMELY nice and friendly. The technologist who did the scans was also extremely nice and friendly. I highly recommend Wake Radiology!” – Jane, North Hills

Schedule Your Mammogram Today

Contact our scheduling team at 919-232-4700 or request mammogram appointment online. Most of our outpatient imaging offices offers mammogram appointments before and after work and on Saturday. And, many locations welcome walk-ins!

schedule a mammogram

About Our Expert

Dr. Susan Kennedy
Susan L. Kennedy, MD — Dr. Susan Kennedy joined the practice in 1996. She is a breast imaging radiologist with special clinical interests in mammography. Learn More...

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