UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

What to Expect

During the Mammogram

Mammography is performed on an outpatient basis. During the mammogram, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle (often made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic). The technologist will gradually compress your breast.

The technologist will stand behind a glass shield during the x-ray exposure. You will be asked to change positions slightly between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an oblique side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast.

You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image.

When the examination is complete, the patient will be asked to wait until the technologist determines the images are of high enough quality for the Radiologist to read. A routine screening may take 15 to 20 minutes. A diagnostic mammogram may take 40 minutes to an hour.

After the Mammogram

You will receive a letter within a week to 10 days with the results. If you do not receive a letter, make sure to call us. Your physcian will get a faxed report of the results within approximately three business days. If the radiologist is questioning a change in the breast or is seeing a new area, you may be called back for additional imaging. It does not mean the original images were not positioned properly.