Breast Imaging Procedures


Duke Breast Imaging: Right from the Start.

Duke Breast Imaging, an American College of Radiology (ACR) Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, offers breast cancer prevention and treatment services including digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammograms) for   screening and diagnostic mammography. Our mission is to provide world class clinical care, accurately detect and diagnose breast cancer and reduce patient anxiety by providing timely results and information for any procedures that may follow.

To optimize patient care, our dedicated radiologists – all of whom are physicians specially trained and certified in breast imaging – work closely with a team of breast surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses and technologists to make up our Multidisciplinary Breast Program.

We recommend that women age 40 or older  have a screening mammogram once every year. Research conclusively demonstrates that yearly screening helps detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage when it is most easily treated. Women under 40 years of age who are at increased risk due to family history or due to a personal history of breast cancer may want to speak with their physician about the optimum age to begin screening.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a picture, or image of the breast, using low dose x-rays.

What is a Screening Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is performed for women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. The goal is detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage before it can be felt to maximize the effectiveness of treatment while minimizing the treatment needed.

What is a Diagnostic Mammogram?

A diagnostic mammogram is used to evaluate patients with abnormal clinical findings found by the patient’s doctor or the patient herself. Such changes can include but are not limited to:

  • A lump or lumps in the breast
  • Discharge, or fluid, from the nipple other than breast milk
  • A nipple that is inverted (turned inward)
  • Skin changes
  • Swelling or thickening in the underarm area

Diagnostic mammography may also be used to further evaluate an abnormal screening mammogram or for patients with breast implants, whose breast tissue might be difficult to evaluate with a routine screening mammogram.

What other breast imaging do you perform at Duke Breast Imaging?

In addition to 2D and 3D mammography, we also perform breast ultrasound and breast MRI exams in the Duke Breast Imaging division. Breast ultrasound is generally performed to further evaluate a mass identified on mammography or a possible lump that can be felt. Breast MRI is often performed for screening women at particularly high risk of developing breast or to better evaluate a newly diagnosed breast cancer prior to surgery.

What procedures do you perform at Duke Breast Imaging?

We have extensive experience performing all needle procedures of the breast. These include needle biopsies using ultrasound, tomosynthesis (stereotactic) and MRI for guidance. We also perform cyst and abscess aspirations as well as wire and radioactive seed localizations prior surgery.


Duke Breast Imaging is offered at 3 Convenient Locations

Duke Breast Imaging is located in Clinic 2-1 of the Duke Cancer Center. The hours of operation are 7:15am – 4:00pm Monday thru Friday, and 8:00am – 12:00pm on Saturdays. Valet parking is available Monday thru Friday.

Southpoint Mammography is located in the Duke Radiology Imaging Center, at 6301 Herndon Rd, Durham.  The hours of operation are 8:00am – 4:30pm, Monday thru Friday. This site offers preventative maintenance screening mammograms. Free parking available.

Patterson Place Mammography is located on 5324 McFarland Drive, 1st Floor Suite 100, Durham. The hours of operation are 8:00am – 4:30pm, Monday thru Friday. This site offers preventative maintenance screening mammograms. Free parking available.



Screening mammography

With three convenient screening locations, including our new state-of-the art Mammography and Breast Imaging Center, patients may schedule their screening mammogram appointment by contacting our Radiology Centralized Scheduling Hub by calling (919)684-7999. Your referring physician must be provided at the time of scheduling to receive your results.

Please note that electronic scheduling for patients is not currently available through or the Radiology website.

Diagnostic mammography

Your referring physician’s office must schedule your diagnostic mammogram. If you need to reschedule an existing appointment, please contact (919)684-7999.



My Exam

Prepare for my Mammogram

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam.
  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.
  • Obtain any prior outside mammograms and bring to your appointment so the radiologist may compare results.

What will I experience during my exam?

A specially trained and registered technologist will position your breast on a special platform, made of clear plastic. Once you are in the correct position, your breast will be held between the platform and the compression paddle. Compressing the breast is necessary in order to:

  • Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
  • 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.

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

Routinely 2 views are taken of each breast, a top-to-bottom view and an angled side view. You will need to change positions between images. The process will be repeated for the other breast. When the examination is complete, you may be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all of the necessary images have been obtained.

Length of scan

The examination process should take about 30 minutes.

When will my results be ready?

A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

A  follow-up exam may be necessary to:
  • Clarify questionable or suspicious findings with additional views or a special imaging technique.
  • Monitor change in a known abnormality.
  • Confirm if treatment is working or if an abnormality is stable.