Contrast Enhanced Mammography

CEM, also known as Contrast Enhanced Mammography, is a specific form of mammogram that utilises contrast dye. This dye is administered into an arm vein to aid in the detection of specific types of breast cancer that may not be easily visible on a standard mammogram or ultrasound.

This form of medical imaging is used in place of an MRI of the breasts and is a much easier form of non-invasive imaging for the patient, as it offers a range of practical advantages. These include shorter exam time and no need to be in a confined space.

  • Why would I need a CEM?

    Your doctor may recommend you have CEM for a variety of reasons, these include:

    • Evaluating a breast lump.
    • Breast cancer screening if you are at increased risk or have dense breasts.
    • Breast cancer follow up.
  • How do I prepare for a CEM?

    There is no special preparation required for CEM, though it is best to keep well hydrated beforehand and only eat lightly. This is because some patients may feel mild nausea after the contrast dye.

    If you have kidney problems or are diabetic, please inform our booking staff.

    You may be more comfortable wearing a 2-piece outfit because you will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and wear a gown.

  • What happens on the day of a CEM?

    Your examination will be performed by a female technologist who has specialised in mammography. They will explain the procedure to you and may ask you some questions about your symptoms and history.

    You will be asked to complete a questionnaire and sign a consent form. Our technologist will then place a small tube in the arm of your vein so that contrast dye can be given.

  • What happens during a CEM?

    During the mammogram, each breast is briefly compressed for a few seconds. Whilst some patients find this uncomfortable, it should not be painful. Our technologists are specially trained to ensure this is as comfortable as possible.

    As the contrast dye is given, you may feel a warm sensation that spreads through the body and a metallic taste in the mouth. This is normal. Please let the technologist know if you have any pain in your arm or feel unwell.

    During the 3D component, you may notice the X-ray arm sweep in an arc, taking multiple low-dose images in a few seconds.

    Most CEM takes 15 minutes to complete. You may be asked to wait briefly whilst your images are checked.

  • What happens after a CEM?

    You will be asked to wait briefly whilst your images are checked. Sometimes further mammogram images are required, or an ultrasound is then performed. This is not uncommon.

    If you have had no reaction to the dye, the tube in your arm will be removed, and a band-aid applied. You can remove this when you get home.

    It is important to drink 6-8 glasses of water after CEM to help clear the contrast dye from your kidneys.

  • When do I get my results?

    Your CEM will be reported by a specialist breast radiologist, which can take some time because there are many images to look at and compare. Results are therefore not usually available immediately. We will send a report to your referring doctor.

    Please ensure you have an appointment booked with your referring doctor to discuss these results.

  • Patient Safety

    CEM is a safe procedure. Patients who have CEM are exposed to slightly more radiation than a normal mammogram, but this is still within official dose recommendations.

    Some patients may have a reaction to the contrast dye. This is uncommon and usually very mild, such as itchiness or hives. Rarely, a reaction can be severe, such as shortness of breath or facial swelling. Our staff are specially trained to treat these symptoms if they occur.

Contrast Enhanced Mammography at The Women’s Imaging Centre

South Coast Radiology is proud to offer contrast enhanced mammography services at our specialist women’s imaging centre in Southport.

For the last 15 years, our specialist Women’s Imaging Centre has offered a range of diagnostic medical imaging services to assist with health conditions and concerns unique to women.

To discover how our team of caring diagnostic imaging professionals can assist you, be sure to get in touch with our Bookings team on 1300 197 297 today.

Make an appointment online or call our dedicated bookings line