Breast Imaging

Fauquier Hospital offers several different kinds of breast imaging, depending on a patients' needs. Your healthcare provider can help you decide whether you need a 2D or a low-dose 3D mammogram. If additional breast imaging is necessary, breast ultrasound, breast MRI or breast biopsy services are available.

2-D digital mammography has been widely available for more than a decade and has been shown to detect significantly more cancers than film mammography (up to 28 percent more), particularly in:

  • Women under age 50
  • Women with dense breast tissue
  • Pre- or postmenopausal women

Digital mammography administers lower doses of radiation to patients, requires a shorter exam time and offers the ability to correct under- or over-exposed pictures without having to repeat the image. Digital images can also be stored electronically, which eliminates the need for transporting films, and they can be retrieved electronically, which allows for easier long-distance consulting.


A screening mammogram is performed when there are no signs or symptoms of a problem or disease.

A diagnostic mammogram (comprehensive mammogram) is used to evaluate a specific symptom, such as a lump, nipple retraction or discharge, or to further evaluate a specific area of the breast as a follow-up to a screening mammogram.

Low-Dose 3D Mammogram

As the latest FDA-approved technology in breast imaging, 3D mammography is an advanced, clinically proven screening and diagnostic tool for early breast cancer detection. During the 3D mammography exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in an arc over the breast, taking multiple low-dose images at different angles. A computer produces a 3D image of the breast tissue in one-millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist (MD) to see in detail never before possible.

Also known as breast tomosynthesis, 3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography and is performed at the same time, with the same system. There is no additional breast compression and the exam time may be slightly shorter than a 2D exam. 3D demonstrates a 40% increase in the detection of invasive cancer, a 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers and a 16 percent decrease in the need for follow-up imaging.

Fauquier Hospital is the first in the area to offer patients the very latest low-dose 3D technology. This allows for both the 3D and 2D images to be taken with the same radiation dose as 2D images alone.

3D mammography can benefit all women who undergo either a screening or diagnostic examination. However, it may be even more beneficial as a first-time baseline mammogram; for women 40 to 60 years old; women with a significant amount of dense breast tissue or women with a personal history or a close family history of breast cancer.

Not all insurance carriers recognize 3D mammography as a covered service. Fauquier Hospital does not charge for any 3D mammography services that are not covered by your insurance company. However, the radiologist will bill you separately and insurance providers vary in their coverage of this fee. Check with your insurance company if you have concerns about out-of-pocket expenses.

Breast MRI

While digital mammography remains the gold standard for breast screening, certain patients do benefit from supplemental breast MRI scans. These patients include women who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer or those with a strong family or personal history. For these patients, the American Cancer Society recommends both a mammogram and an MRI annually, beginning at age 30. Your doctor will determine if you qualify.

For patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, breast MRI gives surgeons and oncologists a clear picture of the extent of the cancer to ensure that proper treatment is delivered. It is also extremely accurate in determining a patient’s response to chemotherapy treatment, and can do so earlier than mammography, ultrasound or a physical exam.A breast MRI captures multiple images of your breast, which are reformatted into numerous projections, providing the radiologist with highly-detailed scans of your breasts.

Image-Guided Breast Biopsy

Breast biopsy is performed to obtain a tissue sample from a suspicious area in the breast, so that the cells in the tissue can be evaluated under a microscope. The pathologist (MD) then determines what type, if any, disease is present. Fauquier Hospital offers ultrasound, stereotactic (X-ray) and MRI guided breast biopsies.

Breast Imaging Hours

For scheduled outpatients: mammograms are available on Mondays, 7:30 to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Scheduled breast biopsies and pre-surgical biopsy needle localizations are available as soon as necessary, according to the patient’s needs.

For More Information

You can find extensive, highly reliable information about all types of breast imaging examinations and procedures at Contact the Medical Imaging Department at 540-316-4500. If you have a doctor's order, you can schedule an appointment by calling the Central Scheduling office at 540-316-5800.

Talk with your doctor about your breast cancer risk and screening plan. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the likelihood that treatment will be successful and the cancer cured.