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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Radiation-Emitting Products

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Frequently Asked Questions About Digital Mammography

 The following Q&As provide information for consumers about Digital Mammography.

Frequently Asked Questions:

 What is digital mammography?

Digital mammography is a mammography system where x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert x-rays into electric signals. These detectors are similar to those found in digital cameras. The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special films to look like regular mammograms. From the patient's point of view, mammography with a Full Field Digital Mammography (FFDM) system (hereafter called "digital mammography") is essentially the same as the screen-film system. The mammograms will be taken the same way. Digital mammography can legally be performed only in facilities that are certified.


 How can women find an FDA certified digital mammography facility?

At the present time there is no publicly accessible centralized system for determining which facilities have digital mammography units. Women can try contacting the approved digital mammography manufacturers (GE Healthcare, Hologic, Siemens AG Medical Solutions, and Fujifilm Medical Systems USA Inc.) for units in their area.


 Do all facilities with digital units accept new patients?

Digital mammography is a relatively new technology and there currently are a small number of facilities with digital units. Therefore, we recommend that women contact the facility to determine whether they will accept new patients.


 Will private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid pay for digital mammography exams?

Again, digital mammography is a new technology and health insurance providers may be in the process of developing their policy for payment for this procedure. Therefore, we recommend that you contact your insurance provider before the procedure to determine whether this procedure is covered by your insurance plan. The telephone number for questions about Medicare reimbursement is 1-800-MEDICARE. To find the number for MEDICAID, look in your local directory.

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