Diagnostic Imaging

Northwestern Medicine uses leading-edge diagnostic techniques to provide patients with exceptional care.

Diagnostic imaging, such as mammography, ultrasound or MRI, is performed if there is a symptom, family history or concerning finding on a screening mammogram or other imaging. In addition, diagnostic imaging will be performed if you require follow-up from a previously identified, likely benign finding.

Diagnostic imaging captures additional images to pinpoint the exact size and location of a breast abnormality. It also provides further clarification about the nature of the finding. In many cases, diagnostic imaging will help indicate if the abnormality is benign (not cancer). However, if an abnormality is suspicious, additional breast imaging or a biopsy may be ordered. A biopsy is the only definitive way to determine whether an abnormality is breast cancer.

Patients who have had a lumpectomy for breast cancer will be seen in the diagnostic clinic at regular intervals for three years after surgery. Once imaging findings are stable for three years, you can return to annual screening.

Diagnostic imaging requires a physician's referral. However, if you had a referral for any breast imaging at Northwestern Medicine within the past two years, no referral is necessary.