Contrast-Enhanced Digital Mammography

What is CEDM?

CEDM is a technique that uses a low dose of X-rays and iodinated contrast dye to image the breasts. The dye makes it easier to find new blood vessels that develop when cancers grow. Your healthcare provider may recommend CEDM to screen for breast cancer if you are higher than average risk and cannot have a breast MRI.

How do I get ready for the test?

On the day of your CEDM, do not wear any deodorant, body powder, or lotion on your breasts or underarm areas. These may appear as small areas of concern on your mammogram.

Be prepared to undress from the waist up and put on a gown.

Bring images from any mammograms, breast ultrasound exams, or breast MRIs that you have had at other hospitals or offices on a CD.  These will be loaded into our system so the radiologist can compare. This is extremely important as a change from prior images can be a sign of breast cancer.

What will happen during the test?

After you change into a gown, a nurse will place an intravenous line (IV) in your arm. You will be given the iodinated contrast dye through the IV. Many patients feel a warm sensation as they are getting the IV contrast dye. Then, you will stand facing the mammography machine. The mammography technologist will position your breast carefully between two rectangular plates. These plates compress the breast between them to flatten and spread the tissue to get the best quality exam. Once the breast is positioned correctly and compressed, the technologist will take two pictures, one from the side and one from the top of the breast. The technologist will instruct you to hold your breath and remain still for a few seconds. Motion, even breathing, can blur the image and make it necessary to repeat the picture. The pressure lasts only a few seconds while the image is taken. The technologist will repeat the procedure to image both breasts.

Are there any risks?

People who have CEDMs are exposed to slightly more radiation than people who have regular mammograms. Some people can have an allergic reaction to intravenous contrast dye. Most reactions are mild, such as hives. Some people can have more serious reactions, such as having trouble breathing or swelling of the face. Intravenous contrast dye can also affect your kidneys. People who have had serious allergic reactions to iodinated contrast dye in the past or who have kidney disease should not have CEDM. CEDM is also not safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

After the test

The nurse will remove the IV line and place a small bandage over the site. A radiologist will analyze the CEDM images and will discuss the results with you, including whether any additional tests are required. Drink six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water in the 24 hours after the CEDM to help remove the contrast dye from your body. You can resume your normal activities.