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Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography)

Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, at UVA creates 3D breast scans that help doctors detect breast cancer earlier than previously possible.

Early detection is the best defense you have against breast cancer.

Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, creates 3D breast scans that help doctors detect breast cancer earlier than previously possible.

How Breast Tomosynthesis Works

Traditional Mammograms

Did You Know?

UVA is the only hospital in the region that offers 3D mammograms.

Traditional mammography is two-dimensional (2D), or flat. Breast tissue is made up of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat. On a mammogram, the tissues overlap and this can mimic or even hide breast cancer.

3D Mammograms

With three-dimensional mammography, a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue. This reduces the need for you to return for extra images with a diagnostic mammogram and may help improve breast cancer detection.

What To Expect With Tomosynthesis

A 3D exam is similar to a traditional mammogram.

  • At UVA, you'll get a traditional 2D mammogram and a 3D mammogram, which gives doctors more data than they'd get with just one mammogram.
  • During the 3D exam, the X-ray arm of the machine sweeps over the breast and takes multiple images in seconds.
  • The procedure takes about as long as a traditional mammogram.

Will It Hurt? You may experience some discomfort or pain, similar to what you'd feel with a traditional mammogram.

What Kind of Radiation Exposure is There? Radiation is twice that of a standard mammogram, but it's still considered very safe. It's well below the dose limit set by the Food and Drug Administration.

Who Should Get a Tomosynthesis Exam?

  • Women 40 and over who have moderately dense or extremely dense breast tissue (as reported on their mammogram)
  • Women who are at high risk for breast cancer

Women with fatty breast tissue may not benefit from tomosynthesis.

Want a Tomosynthesis Exam?

Call us at 434.243.4704

You need a doctor (primary care, gynecologist or other) who we can send your test results to.

Need to make an appointment and don't have a doctor? You can still call us at 434.243.4704 and we'll help you find a doctor.


Most insurance providers don't cover 3D mammograms yet. There's an $80 self-pay fee for 3D mammography, as well as any costs associated with your regular mammogram.

How Tomosynthesis Works
Tomosynthesis in the News

UVA's Dr. Carrie Rochman explains what Tomosynthesis means for women and breast health.

Listen here.