This topic has two different ways of being answered. The first is how the mammogram image is actually taken - the technology of the machine taking it. The second way is about the different angles or views that mammograms capture. You can find information about those here.
For years, tradional xray machines were used to produce mammograms and there are still some places that perform them using this technique. However research centers have developing several new technologies to improve conventional mammography where computers assist in the interpretation of the x-rays. Two of the more recent and used advances in mammography include digital mammography and computer-aided detection.
Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is a mammography system in which the x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert traditional x-rays into electrical signals. These types of detectors are similar to ones you might find in your digital camera. These new electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen. However, from a patient's point of view, there’s little difference in having a digital mammogram from having a conventional film screen mammogram.
Computer-aided detection (CAD) systems use a digitized mammographic image to search for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer. This system can use the images that are taken from either a conventional film mammogram or a digitally acquired mammogram. The computer software interprets the image and highlights these areas on the images that are ‘abnormal’, alerting the radiologist to the need for further analysis.
ABOVE: Traditional film mammogram xray of patient's right and left breasts.
ABOVE: Digital mammogram (enhanced in blue) showing MLO view of right breast.
ABOVE: Digital mammogram (enhanced in blue) showing CC view of both right and left breasts.
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