A mammography unit is a machine that uses low-dose x-rays to screen for and diagnose breast cancer.
X-rays are produced by an x-ray tube inside of the mammography unit. The unit is equipped to produce x-rays at energies that allow better viewing of breast pathology.
The x-rays pass through the breast and are detected by a flat panel detector array. The array is made up of many electronic components that see the x-rays and convert them into an image for the radiologist.
One other important part of mammography is the compression of the breast tissue. This is very important for several reasons. First, it reduces overlapping anatomy, giving doctors a clearer image. Second, it reduces motion which can blur the image. Third, it allows for a reduction in radiation dose because the anatomy is thinner.
Mammography is a very important diagnostic imaging tool and has helped to increase the survival rate for breast cancer patients. New technology in recent years like tomosynthesis or “3D” breast imaging has made this type of imaging even more useful to physicians.