Contrast Enhanced Mammography (CEM)

What is contrast Enhanced Mammography (CEM)?


Contrast Enhanced Mammography is latest state-of-the-art breast imaging technique, which is performed with injection of contrast material into the arm vein. This technique has been shown to detect small cancers that were otherwise not visible in the standard Mammograms, thus improving diagnostic confidence.

What are the benefits?

  • improves cancer detection.
  • increases diagnostic confidence.
  • especially useful in very dense breasts, where conventional mammography has low sensitivity.
  • assess breast lumps.
  • follow-up of post treatment changes, especially where there is post treatment scarring.

What is the preparation?

Standard preparation as for Mammography are required. These can be found here.

In addition, a standard questionnaire will need to be completed for the contrast injection, that will be provided by the technologist performing the CEM. This is to make sure that the patient does not have any contra indications to the contrast material. Please feel free to ask the technician or the Radiologist, any questions that you may have regarding the procedure.

How is it done?

Contrast Enhanced Mammogram is always performed along with 3D Tomosynthesis (3D Mammogram). A small cannula is inserted in the arm vein and iodinated contrast material is injected. Immediately after the injection, the Contrast Mammogram images of both breasts (or of the single breast if there is a mastectomy) are obtained. It is very quick as the exposure times are short.

What does it show?

The machine takes 2 sets of images of each breast in quick succession. These images are then processed by the computer and a substracted image is created. The tumour and other breast abnormalities appear highlighted (white) and the rest of the normal breast tissue is substracted (grey). This makes the abnormalities stand out more clearly.

What happens after the procedure?

The images are sent to the specialist Radiologist, who will then read the Mammogram and CEM to make a report. This report will be sent to your referring doctor.

What are the risks?

Rarely, some people can have an allergic reaction to the contrast, This is the same contrast material that is used for CT scans.

Please let the technologist know if you currently have any of the following-

  • known contrast allergy
  • Kidney disease
  • if you are pregnant
  • diabetes.

Contrast Enhanced Mammography is performed at FMIG HAWTHRON branch. Please click here to book your appointment.

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