Gammagram

As a follow-up to your mammogram, ultrasound examination, or MRI, you physician may order breast specific gamma imaging (BSGI). BSGI is a functional imaging procedure that images activity at the cellular level through the uptake of a radioactive tracer. A small amount of the tracer is delivered to the patient and immediately disperses to all cells in the body. Images of the breast are then taken with the BSGI camera. Because cancerous cells are growing and are more "active" than the tissue found in a healthy breast, this activity shows up as "hot spots" on the image of the breast. While mammography, MRI, and ultrasound image the physical structure of the breast, BSGI images cellular function. Because BSGI provides a functional view for the physician to compare and contrast with the physical or anatomic images from mammography and other technologies, it can be of benefit to the physician, helping to either reduce or to increase his or her level of suspicion with respect to whether there is a cancer in the breast. Specifically, it is used in cases where:

  • Breast tissue is very dense
  • There are multiple indeterminate or suspicious lesions or cluster of microcalcifications
  • Lesions that can be felt, but not detected with mammography or ultrasound.
  • The patient has breast implants
  • There is a diagnosed breast cancer
  • To further evaluate post-surgical or post-therapeutic densities.

Advantages of GammaGram:

  • No painful compression of the breast.
  • Can find cancers missed by mammography and ultrasound.
  • Answers immediately following the procedure. Accurate results.
  • Costs less than other imaging techniques.

Common questions:

  1. Does BSGI replace a mammogram?
    No. Mammography is very good and important technology. BSGI is used with mammography (and sometimes ultrasound) to increase the physician's level of understanding of your breast health. Most patients will not require BSGI.
  2. Does BSGI hurt?
    No. You will be seated in a comfortable chair and given a small injection in a vein in your arm. Two images will be taken of each breast, with each image taking approximately 10 minutes. As the iages are being taken your breast will be held in place by a small panel. The panel does not compress the breast and exerts a pressure of only about two pounds.
  3. Will I get my results immediately?
    You will generally get your BSGI results before you leave. After the images are taken, the radiologist will review them along with any other imaging that you have received, and this may take a few minutes before he or she can meet with you to explain the results. In some instances, the radiologist may order one or more additional images.
  4. How long with the radioactivity be in my body?
    Sestamibi, the radiotracer used in BSGI, has been used for years in cardiac imaging. Two hours after the injection and radioactivity will have disappeared.

For more information on this topic, please visit www.Radiologyinfo.org.

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