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Breast Imaging

We have a dedicated and experienced female team of consultant radiologists who provide a specialist breast imaging service. We run our breast imaging service at Spire Dunedin Hospital. Our team has combined experience of over 50 years practice.

For breast imaging your doctor will need to refer you directly to the specialist breast team at Spire Dunedin Hospital. This includes screening mammograms, ultrasound and MRI.

We offer a comprehensive breast imaging service which includes full-field digital mammography, high resolution breast ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Our team uses breast imaging to check the health of your breasts and diagnose potential problems. There are three main types of breast imaging:

  • Mammograms – These are specialist low dose X-rays that doctors use to screen the breasts> They can detect potential problems, such as tumours. We provide annual mammograms to women over the age of 40. We also work closely with specialist surgeons to support people with breast problems.
  • Breast ultrasound – This uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the breast. Ultrasound can be effective at detecting fluid-filled cysts. These may not always show up clearly on mammograms. Doctors can also use them to investigate further investigate areas of concern. We provide ultrasound to women over the age of 35 in conjunction with mammograms. In addition we offer ultrasound to younger women as an alternative to mammograms.
  • Breast MRI scansMRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses radio waves and strong magnets to produce a detailed picture of the inside of the breast. We sometimes use them to determine the extent of breast cancer or to look for tumours in the other breast. We use breast MRIs in addition to mammograms and ultrasound, where necessary, and in women who have breast implants.

Our team uses breast imaging as part of a routine screening programme. This is offered to women over a certain age or to high risk women. It allows doctors to monitor the health of their breasts and check for early signs of problems. There is a greater chance of successful treatment if problems are picked up early.

We also use breast imaging to confirm or rule out a suspected cancer diagnosis. It can help us to investigate areas of concern or to determine the extent of breast cancer. In addition it breast imaging can to monitor the success of treatment.

Mammography: During a mammogram you will be asked to remove your top and stand close to the mammography machine. A female mammographer will show you what to do so that we can obtain clear images of each breast. We may ask you to move slightly until the position is just right. The machine will apply gentle compression to each breast. This will enable us to get a good picture of what is going on inside the breast tissue.

Ultrasound: If you are given an ultrasound, you will be asked to remove your top and lie on a couch next to the ultrasound machine. The consultant radiologist will apply a special jelly to the skin. She will then press the ultrasound probe gently but firmly against your breast so we can analyse the breast tissue.

MRI: MRI breast scans take around 30 minutes. A female radiographer will take you into the scan room. She will ask you to remove your top and give you a special gown to change into. She will normally inject a dye into your arm which allows us to monitor the blood flow inside your breasts so we can identify any abnormal areas.

Within the MRI breast scanner, you will be asked to lie on your stomach with your breasts resting in specially-designed supports. Your breasts will not be compressed as they are with a mammogram.

It’s important that you are as comfortable as possible as you will need to lie still for us to obtain clear images so please tell your radiographer if you are uncomfortable. The scanner is fairly noisy so you will be given headphones to wear so you can listen to music during the scan. A friend or relative will be able to stay with you if you would like them to.

A mammogram exposes you to a low dose of radiation which carries a small risk. However, the benefits of regular breast screening are believed to outweigh the risks. Sometimes a mammogram may lead to additional testing. For example we may request an ultrasound or biopsies to remove a sample of breast tissue for laboratory testing. This is a precaution and most abnormal mammogram findings turn out not to be cancer.

Ultrasound scans do not expose you to radiation like other types of scans. They use sound waves, which pose no known risks.

A breast MRI scan is generally a safe procedure. However, a small number of people can’t have one> This includes anyone with a heart pacemaker, implantable defibrillator, ear or cochlear implants, metal heart valves, metal fragments in the eyes or anyone in the first three months of pregnancy. We will ask you to complete a safety questionnaire before the procedure and if you have any concerns please talk to your radiologist.

Frequently asked questions – Breast Imaging

For breast imaging (screening mammograms, ultrasound and MRI) your doctor will need to refer you directly to the specialist breast team at Spire Dunedin Hospital (0118 958 7676).

If you have a breast problem your GP can refer you to the specialist breast team at Spire Dunedin Hospital.

The specialist consultant radiologist will interpret the images and conduct any ultrasound examination. They will share the imaging results with you on any same-day as your appointment. Should an ultrasound guided biopsy be needed, then we can do this the same time. Biopsy results will usually be available within 5 days.

Women over 40 years will usually require mammography and breast ultrasound examination. However women under the age of 40 years will usually require ultrasound only.

You can refer yourself to Spire Dunedin for an annual screening mammogram. This applies to women over 40 years, who do not have any breast symptoms and have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months. Two specialist consultant radiologists will read these mammograms. They will then send the results promptly to your GP.

The NHS routinely invites all women between the ages of 50 and 71 to attend for regular breast screening. They recommend mammograms for women in this age group every 3 years.

If you have a breast implant problem speak to your GP.  They can refer you to the specialist breast team at Spire Dunedin Hospital.

We usually use breast ultrasound to assess your breast implants in the first instance. Additionally sometimes we may perform a breast MRI.

We will send your results promptly to your referring clinician. They will then get in touch to discuss them with you.

Biopsy results will usually be available within 5 days.

We offer a broad range of treatments at Berkshire Imaging, at a number of different locations. For this reason the price will vary. Please call 0118 338 2500 or email for an accurate price. You can also get in touch via our contact page. You can read more information relating to payments and insurance on our payment information page.