Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

If your screening mammogram shows any potential abnormalities, you may need further testing. Alternatively, if you experience any unusual breast pain or symptoms, your provider may order a diagnostic test. At CHI Franciscan Health, our radiologists and imaging technologists who specialize in mammography provide comprehensive diagnostic testing for breast health.

Digital diagnostic mammography

A diagnostic mammogram is the same exam as a screening mammogram. The difference is that it utilizes more specialized views and one of our board-certified radiologists reviews the images while you’re still there, in case more images of certain areas are needed.

Breast ultrasound

A painless exam, a breast ultrasound uses high-resolution sound waves to create images of the breast, which are viewed on a computer screen. It is often used in conjunction with a diagnostic mammogram.

A breast ultrasound can:

  • Determine if a mass or lump is fluid-filled or solid
  • Guide breast biopsies (samples of breast tissue for analysis) or cyst aspirations (draining of fluid)

Breast MRI

A breast MRI is a painless exam that uses radio waves and high-powered magnets in conjunction with contrast material to create highly detailed images of the breast. Highly sensitive, breast MRIs are helpful in determining if breast disease has spread or for evaluating cancer patients already undergoing treatment.

A breast MRI requires a referral by a physician. It may be used to determine how far cancer has spread or to evaluate breast implants for leakage or rupture. In some instances, breast MRI is used as a screening tool for women with an increased calculated risk for developing breast cancer or for those who are genetically predisposed carrying the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and 2.

Image-guided breast biopsy

If a breast lump or abnormality is detected during a breast exam or imaging exam, we’ll schedule a breast biopsy so that our physicians can remove cell or tissue samples to determine whether they are benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous).

A biopsy is a tissue sample taken for microscopic examination and analysis by a pathologist (disease specialist). At CHI Franciscan, we perform these types of image-guided breast biopsies:

Stereotactic breast biopsy

A machine similar to those for mammograms takes images of breast tissue from two different angles. Viewing the images on a computer screen, the surgeon guides the tool to the precise site of the abnormal growth and collects cells to be analyzed in a lab. A stereotactic breast biopsy does not require hospitalization or general anesthesia.

Ultrasound-guided biopsy

The surgeon or radiologist uses the ultrasound images, viewed on a computer screen, to guide the biopsy tool to the site of abnormal growth. An ultrasound-guided biopsy uses needle or vacuum-assisted biopsy to obtain tissue samples for a pathologist to analyze.

MRI-guided biopsy

The radiologist uses MRI images to guide a needle to remove tissue samples for a pathologist to analyze.

Needle localization breast biopsy

This procedure uses two types of needles, a fine-gauge needle or a large, hollow needle, to obtain fluid or tissue samples.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA)

The surgeon or radiologist uses a long, thin needle, inserted through the skin of the breast, to extract fluid (from a cyst or infected area) or cells from the abnormal area. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is similar to drawing blood.

Find a physician for breast care

If you are experiencing unusual breast pain or find a lump in your breast, please see your health care provider. Find a doctor online or call 1-888-825-3227 for a referral 24 hours a day.