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Breast Imaging

The Breast Imaging Center at SJMHS Ellen Thompson Women’s Health Center is designated as a Center of Excellence, by the American College of Radiology. This designation requires facilities to be accredited in Mammography, Stereotactic Core Biopsy, Breast Ultrasound and Breast Ultrasound-Guided Core Biopsy.

As a leader in breast cancer detection, SJMHS Breast Imaging Center has been offering cutting-edge services for over 25 years. We are also a member of Trinity Health’s Mercy Cancer Network, one of Michigan’s largest cancer care networks. Both screening and diagnostic procedures are interpreted by Board Certified Radiologists specializing in Breast Imaging. 

Digital Screening Mammography is offered at the following Saint Joseph Mercy Health System locations:

  • Ellen Thompson Women’s Health Center (located on the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Campus)
  • St. Joseph Mercy Livingston (Howell)
  • St. Joseph Mercy Saline
  • Arbor Health Center (Plymouth)
  • St. Joseph Mercy Canton
  • St. Joseph Mercy Brighton

Screening examinations are read separately, and a report is sent promptly to the ordering physician.  A letter stating results and recommendations are mailed to the patient within 10-30 days. Patients requiring additional imaging are notified by a phone call within 1-2 business days, with appointments immediately available.

Diagnostic mammography is available at the Ellen Thompson Women’s Health Center and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston.  Women having a diagnostic examination, in most cases will get verbal results and recommendations before leaving the department.   

Other diagnostic imaging procedures include:

  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Ultrasound
  • Ultrasound-guided core biopsy
  • Stereotactic core biopsy
  • Needle localization
  • MRI and MRI-guided core biopsy or localization 

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer are connected with a Breast Health Nurse Navigator.  The Navigator helps coordinate care with all members of the breast health team at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Comprehensive Cancer Center is a multi-disciplinary clinic available for patients where a treatment team comprised of physicians and other health care providers meet and form an individualized plan of care.  The Breast Imaging Center works collaboratively with the clinic to ensure imaging and diagnostic needs are met.

If you have questions regarding the procedure your physician has ordered, please call 734-712-5907 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to be connected with specialized staff that can answer your questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my medical insurance cover the cost of a mammogram?
Prior to your appointment, we advise that you contact your insurance company. Ask if screening and diagnostic mammography, as well as breast ultrasound, are covered and how often.  Also, check your coverage for deductibles or co-pays in each category.  Mammography coverage varies from one insurance plan to another and can change annually.  Specific procedures are performed based on patient symptoms and clinical need.  Depending on your insurance coverage, the patient may be responsible for facility and radiologist fees. 

What is a screening mammogram?
A yearly screening mammogram is recommended by the American Cancer Society for women age 40 and older to check for breast cancer even if there are no visible signs or symptoms of the disease.  Typically, two X-rays of each breast are obtained.  A breast physical examination is not performed during a routine screening mammogram.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?
A diagnostic mammogram is performed when patients are having or have had an area of concern in their breast.  Specialized X-rays of the symptomatic breast are obtained as directed by the radiologist.  A breast physical examination may also be performed. 

If your doctor orders a diagnostic mammogram, your insurance company may, or may not, cover the cost.

How do I know what exam is recommended for me?
Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any changes in your breast so she/he can decide which type of mammogram is best for you.  Your referring physician will have a copy of your most recent mammogram report.  If you have concerns about your mammography insurance coverage, please be sure to let your physician know. 

Is there information I need to share with the scheduler when making an appointment?
Please inform the scheduler if you have any breast changes or concerns, e.g. pain, lump or discharge, if you have breast implants, any special needs or if you are breast feeding.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

  • Plan to allow a total of 45-60 minutes for your mammography appointment.  Please allow an additional 45-60 minutes if you are also having a breast ultrasound.
  • Wear a two–piece outfit if possible, as you will be asked to undress completely from the waist up.
  • On the day of your exam, do NOT wear deodorant, perfume, powder or lotion.  A shower or bath is recommended prior to your exam, as hygiene products can show on a mammogram as an abnormality.
  • Please make arrangements for the care of your children during your exam.  Radiology Services does not have anyone available to supervise your children.

Do I need to bring my previous mammograms from another facility to my appointment?
It is very important that you obtain images if performed at a facility other than Saint Joseph Mercy Health System either on film or CD.  Please bring them with you to your appointment.  Prior images are critical to the radiologist who uses them to look for changes over the years.  When prior images are not available, additional exams or images may be needed or the interpretation of your mammogram may be delayed.

Do I need a signed physician order for breast imaging procedures?
A signed physician order is required for your breast imaging evaluation.  If your physician gave you an order, you will need to bring it to your appointment.  If your physician’s office faxed your order to Central Scheduling, you do not need to bring the order on the day of your service.

How will I receive my results?
Results are sent to your physician and a letter is mailed to you within 30 days of your examination.  If special views are needed, you will receive a phone call from the Breast Imaging Center within 48 hours of your exam. In most cases, verbal results are given at the end of this callback appointment.

Reminder letters are also mailed to patients to schedule their next mammogram.  If you have a question about your reminder letter, or did not get a result letter, please call the Breast Imaging Center at 734-712-5907.

Why do some patients receive same day mammogram results?
Patient’s having a diagnostic mammogram get verbal results and recommendations on the same day as their mammogram.  This includes patients with a current issue or that are having a follow-up exam. 

Who can I call if I have clinical questions?
Your primary care doctor should be your first resource if you have questions about your breast health.  You may also speak with a certified Radiology Breast Imaging Navigator or an Oncology Nurse Navigator by calling 734-712-5907.

What is CAD?
CAD stands for Computer-Aided Detection.  This is a component of software used to assist the radiologist in identifying abnormalities on a mammogram.  CAD is used on all screening mammograms and most diagnostic mammograms. Patients do not have the option of whether CAD is utilized or not. 

Can I have a breast ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
A Breast Ultrasound cannot replace a mammogram.  It may be recommended by a radiologist to further image the breast tissue and provide additional information.  Both exams are used together.  When a mammogram shows a mass, a breast ultrasound can help the radiologist understand if it is filled with fluid, like a cyst, or if it is solid.

Can I have a breast MRI instead of a mammogram?
Breast MRI cannot replace a mammogram.  Breast MRI can sometimes be helpful when someone is in a category called High Risk or for those who have a breast cancer diagnosis.  If your doctor orders a diagnostic breast MRI, a recent mammogram within the last 8 months is required so the radiologist can compare the MRI result with the mammogram.  If your doctor orders a screening breast MRI, a mammogram is required within the last 12-13 months.

How can I find out the cost of a mammogram, breast ultrasound or other breast imaging procedures?
Please refer to the general FAQ’s for information on how to obtain price estimates for mammography procedures.

Who can I call if I have billing questions?
If you have billing questions, please call the phone numbers listed in the FAQ’s. 

A Member of Trinity Health