3D machine at medical imaging of fredericksburg north stafford

3D vs. 2D Mammograms: What’s the difference?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts. Mammogram screening can detect breast cancer up to three years before a tumor can be felt during a breast exam. Without a cure for breast cancer, early detection is the very best defense.

When it comes to scheduling your mammogram, you will have the choice between 3D and 2D mammography. What’s the difference?


The positioning for a 3D mammogram is the same as a 2D mammogram. But instead of taking a single picture, the unit moves in an arc around the breast and takes multiple snapshots. Then, computer software takes all of those snapshots and combines them for a more complete picture. “It uses the same amount of radiation, in the same amount of time, but with much greater detail and information,” according to Dr. Roni Talukdar of Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg.


“When you take a traditional mammogram, you are taking a picture of a 3D object and producing a 2D representation,” Dr. Talukdar said. “As a result, you have structures that sit on top of each other and mimic a mass.” With 3D, the doctor can go in and view each “slice” of the breast to determine if it is actually a mass. “Ultimately it means that our ability to pick up small cancers is improved, and we have less false positives,” explained Dr. Talukdar.


Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg is proud to provide the community with the latest technology and the highest level of patient care for the greatest value in the region.

While physicians like Dr. Talukdar have made great strides in getting insurance companies to cover 3D mammogram costs, some patients may still have to pay the difference between a 2D and 3D mammogram. So is it worth it?

The physicians and staff at Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg feel passionately about making the latest advances in technology accessible to the community. Dr. Talukdar tells his patients, “The data shows that regardless of your age or breast density, all things being equal, 3D is better than 2D. It’s something we believe in and we use ourselves.”

Ultimately, 3D mammography is the next step in improving patient care. According to Dr. Talukdar, “3D is a tool. It’s the next step in our ability to detect these cancers when they’re smaller. It’s the future of breast imaging.”

Benefits of 3D Mammograms

  • Effective cancer detection. 3D provides 35% better cancer detection. With a more comprehensive, clearer look at the breast tissue, radiologists have been able to detect cancer significantly sooner and with more accuracy.
  • Imaging clarity. The three-dimensional pictures provide additional angles of the breast tissue. Each image represents a thin slice and has been likened to a single page in a book. Assembled together, the pages reveal a complete story. The images themselves are also clearer.
  • Fewer callbacks. With clearer images, the stress caused by a false alarm is often avoided. When an image falsely reveals an abnormality, the patient is called back for a second test. The rate of call-backs is significantly lower with 3D imaging.
  • Optimal imaging for breast density. Patients who have dense breasts are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. The risk factor is compounded by the fact that like a cancer mass, the glandular tissue and fat appears white on x-ray. Looking at the tissue from multiple angles enables the radiologist to differentiate with more clarity and precision.

Should I schedule a 3D or 2D Mammogram?

For many patients, a 3D mammogram is the optimal choice. A 3D mammogram can help to:

  • Establish a baseline. If you are a patient who is scheduling your first annual exam, consider choosing a 3D vs. a 2D Mammogram. The quality and quantity of the imaging is ideal of establishing a baseline. With the clearest and most comprehensive images to look back on, you will maximize the benefits of your future annual exams.
  • Confront risk factors. Women who are at greater risk of developing breast cancer can benefit from the earlier detection that 3D mammograms provide. If you have a family history of breast cancer or have other multiple risk factors, 3D mammography is your ideal option. Utilizing the technology that provides the earliest possible detection has saved patients’ lives.