Mammograms and Other Breast Imaging Tests

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What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast that’s used to detect and evaluate breast changes.

X-rays were first used to examine breast tissue a century ago, by the German surgeon, Albert Salomon. But modern mammography has only existed since the late 1960s, when special x-ray machines were designed and used just for breast imaging. Since then, the technology has advanced, and today’s mammogram is very different even from those of the 1980s and 1990s.

Today’s x-ray machines used for mammograms expose the breast to much less radiation compared with those used in the past. The x-rays do not go through tissue as easily as those used for routine chest x-rays or x-rays of the arms or legs, which also improves the image quality.


Last Medical Review: 12/10/2013
Last Revised: 06/10/2014