Advanced Techniques and Technologies

UCSF performs 100 percent, full-field, digital mammography, a technology that has been proven to be of significant increased value in detecting additional cancers that might have been missed using older technologies sometimes found at other medical centers. Digital mammography has the additional benefit of exposing patients to lower levels of radiation than the traditional analog screening method.

Mammograms - UCSF Medical

UCSF’s advanced breast imaging services include:

Digital Screening Mammography

Digital screening mammogram techniques are used at UCSF for annual mammograms to detect any overall change in the appearance of breast tissue. These are appropriate as an annual check-up for women without breast cancer symptoms. To make an appointment, please call (415) 353-2573.

Digital Diagnostic Mammography

Digital diagnostic mammograms involve a series of breast images to provide a more detailed view of a specific portion of the breast, as prescribed and monitored by a specialist trained in breast imaging. This digital diagnostic technique is appropriate for women with a prior history of breast cancer, a new breast symptom (for example, a patient or her doctor feels a lump), or an abnormal screening mammogram.

Breast Ultrasound

This exam uses sound waves to evaluate breast lumps in conjunction with mammography. Ultrasound may be very helpful in avoiding biopsy for cysts, and it also may allow more accurate diagnosis of some breast cancers. This examination is used with mammography to provide additional information.  Ultrasound is not a substitute for mammography, except in some women with breast lumps who are too young to benefit from mammography.

Ultrasound-Guided Breast Cyst Aspiration

This exam uses sound waves to evaluate breast lumps in conjunction with mammography. Ultrasound may be very helpful in avoiding biopsy for cysts, and it also may allow more accurate diagnosis of some breast cancers. This examination is used with mammography to provide additional information.  Ultrasound is not a substitute for mammography, except in some women with breast lumps who are too young to benefit from mammography.

Breast Core Biopsy and Fine Needle Aspiration

This procedure, performed using local anesthesia, uses ultrasound technology to guide the radiologist in obtaining a small amount of breast tissue for evaluation of possible disease.

Stereotactic-Guided Breast Core Biopsy

This involves the use of mammography and a computer-targeted guidance system to help the radiologist obtain a small amount of breast tissue for evaluation of possible disease.  It is performed using local anesthesia.

Needle Localization

This procedure, performed under local anesthesia, uses mammography, ultrasound, or MRI guidance to mark an area of concern for the breast surgeon. The procedure is usually performed on the morning of the patient’s surgery.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

High field breast MRI is an advanced imaging technology using magnetic waves in conjunction with an injection of contrast dye to take pictures of the breast. High field breast MRI can show lesions not visible through mammography or ultrasound.  MRI techniques are used in specific situations only. UCSF follows American Cancer Society recommendations that certain women with an especially high risk of developing breast cancer have an MRI screening examination either at the same time as their yearly mammogram, or at six month intervals between their yearly mammograms.

UCSF was the first location in the nation to use a dedicated, adjustable imaging table specifically for breast MRI studies. The specialized magnetic resonance protocols used by UCSF radiologists are not yet available at many community hospitals. Using MRI, UCSF radiologists can successfully image very dense breasts or breasts with implants, and they can perform accurate breast MRI studies for larger and heavier patients.

MRI-Guided Core Biopsy

This is an advanced imaging technology that uses MRI to guide the radiologist in obtaining a small tissue sample for evaluation of possible disease.  Those who are at high risk for breast disease can be scanned and biopsied at UCSF using state-of-the art 1.5T and 3.0T MRI scanners and the most advanced techniques for core biopsy.