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Women's Imaging

Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare's Women's Imaging Center offers the latest technology and compassionate care. The center provides a relaxed and soothing environment where women have more privacy, and the state-of-the-art digital equipment gives radiologists immediate access to mammogram images. The center gives women who are dealing with cancer easy access to information, diagnostics and treatment.

Services offered at the Women's Imaging Center include:

  • Breast ultrasound
  • 3-D mammography and digital mammography
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy
  • Ultrasound guided biopsy

2D/3D Mammography

A mammogram is an important test that can help safeguard a woman's health. The test can be used to check for signs of breast cancer or—along with biopsy—to help diagnose cancer or another breast disease. View a video highlighting our mammography services.

At Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare, we are committed to providing women who need mammograms with the latest technology in a comfortable environment. Our expertise has resulted in the designation of ValleyCare as a Center of Excellence for Breast Imaging by the American College of Radiology and has received full accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers administered by the American College of Surgeons.

To schedule an appointment at the Women's Imaging Center, please call 925.734.3376.

Find out how a mammogram is performed.

Digital Mammography

ValleyCare provides the latest in digital mammography at both the Women's Imaging Center in Pleasanton and at the ValleyCare Medical Plaza on the Livermore campus.

Who Should Get a Routine Screening Mammogram?

An annual mammogram is recommended for:

  • Women in their 40s or older
  • Women of any age with a history of breast cancer
  • Women of any age who are at an increased risk for breast cancer. Women are at increased risk if they have lumpy breasts, haven't been pregnant, had a first pregnancy after age 30, have a genetic susceptibility to breast cancer or have a family history of breast cancer.

What Is Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography)?

Tomosynthesis or 3D mammography is a new type of digital x-ray mammogram which creates 2D and 3D-like pictures of the breasts. This tool improves the ability of mammography to detect early breast cancers, and decreases the number of women called back for additional tests for findings that are not cancers.

During a 3D exam, an x-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple low dose x-ray images. Then, a computer produces synthetic 2D and 3D images of your breast tissue. The images include thin 1-millimeter slices, enabling the radiologist to scroll through images of the entire breast like flipping through pages of a book, and providing more detail than previously possible.

The 3D images reduce the overlap of breast tissue, and make it possible for a radiologist to better see through your breast tissue on the mammogram. Watch a video highlighting this new technology.

Why Is There a Need for Tomosynthesis Breast Exams? What Are the Benefits?

With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing the tissues of your breast overlapping on flat images. This tissue overlap can sometimes make cancers hard to detect. Also, overlap can sometimes create areas that appear abnormal, but require that you be called back for additional tests to determine that cancer is not present (so-called false positives).

Tomosynthesis or 3D mammography directly addresses the current limitations of standard 2D mammography. Multiple studies have shown that 3D mammography increases the detection of breast cancer by approximately 25%, and decreases the number of false positive call backs by approximately 15%.

What Is the Difference Between a Screening and Diagnostic Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is done in women who have no breast symptoms. A diagnostic mammogram is done in women who have been called back from a screening mammogram, or who have a clinical breast symptom such as a lump.

What Should I Expect During the 3D Mammography Exam?

Having a 3D mammogram is similar to a having conventional digital mammogram, including the amount of compression of the breasts and the time in compression. The main difference is that the x-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over your breasts.

Why Is Compression Important in Mammography?

  • Decreases radiation dose
  • Separates glandular tissue
  • Decreases superimposition of tissue
  • Improves resolution or clarity of the image
  • Increases contrast to visualize subtle differences in tissue
  • Reduces scatter radiation

Who Can Have a 3D Mammography Exam?

It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings.

Does 3D Mammography Have a Higher Radiation Dose?

Because Stanford has invested in software that creates both the synthetic 2D and 3D images from the same acquisition, the synthetic 2D and 3D radiation dose is very similar to that of standard 2D digital mammograms in the U.S..

  • The average annual natural background in the U.S. is 3 millisieverts (mSv). In Colorado it is 4 mSv.
  • A traditional 2D mammogram is 0.4 mSv.
  • A synthetic 2D and 3D mammogram is 0.5 mSv.

State law requires health care providers to notify women when their screening mammogram shows dense breasts. For information or to learn more about dense breasts, visit breastdensity.info.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization

We are excited to offer this minimally invasive image-guided procedure for the treatment of symptomatic fibroids. Our highly skilled interventional radiologists have performed hundreds of these procedures with excellent results as an alternative to surgery or conservative medical management.

There are many options for the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids, however only interventional radiologists (IRs) are specifically trained in performing uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). UFE preserves the uterus and offers lasting results. UFE is an outpatient procedure with overnight observation only if needed, many of our patients are able to go home the same day. We place a small catheter via a tiny incision in your wrist or groin and deliver particles that block the blood supply directly to these fibroids, causing them to shrink and helping improve your symptoms.

External resources for more information about UFE: