Exemplary Patient Experiences, Always.


Exemplary Patient Experiences, Always.

Breast Imaging

The following Breast Imaging Services are provided at one or more of the hospital sites in support of Inpatient, Emergencies and the Outpatient program. Breast Imaging uses mammograms, ultrasounds or MRI's to detect changes and abnormalities of the breast.

Click the link below for brief description of each of these services and frequently asked questions:

Available at all three hospitals unless otherwise stated.  Milton District & Georgetown Hospitals have direct and equal access to services that may not be available specifically at these locations.


A mammogram is an imaging test that evaluates the breast tissue using a low dose of x-rays. A mammogram is done to look for signs of early cancer. On a mammogram, cancer may show up as a mass, calcification or tissue distortion.

A mammogram is usually done as a screening test, meaning that it is done on patients that have no breast symptoms.  It is typically performed on women over the age of 50, but sometimes in younger patients depending on personal and family history. A diagnostic mammogram is done when a patient has a breast symptom such as a lump or nipple discharge or when an abnormality is found on a screening mammogram.

Mammography is offered at all three of Halton Healthcare Services hospitals and use Full Field Digital Mammography (FFDM). With this technology, the image is captured using x-rays that are electronically processed  and immediately displayed as a digital image. 

Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP)

The Ontario Breast Screening Program is a comprehensive, organized breast cancer-screening program. Its mission is to reduce mortality from breast cancer by delivering high quality breast screening imaging to Ontario women between the ages of 50 and 74, who have no previous history of breast cancer.

Women in the Halton Region can now access enhanced breast screening services at any of Halton Healthcare's three community hospitals. As of July 2014, Milton District Hospital (MDH) and Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) were established as new Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) sites. In addition, Georgetown Hospital, (GH) which was already an OBSP Screening Site, has been elevated to an Assessment Centre.  As of February 2015, OTMH expanded and joined GH as an Assessment Center site.

Service is provided through dedicated breast screening centers that must achieve accreditation with the Canadian Association of Radiologists Mammography Accreditation Program. The program is funded by the Ministry of Health and administered under Cancer Care Ontario.

Referral Information:
IMPORTANT - for all exams you will need a signed requisition form from your referring doctor (except for OBSP self-referral screening exams). It is important that you bring with you or arrange to have sent, previous mammogram exams done at other facilities.

Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to assess the breast tissue. Breast ultrasound typically is used as a tool to evaluate abnormalities detected on your mammogram or to evaluate symptoms such as a lump or nipple discharge.  Ultrasound is not routinely used as a screening tool and does not replace a mammogram as a screening exam.

Frequently Asked Questions on Breast Ultrasounds

Breast Biopsies

If your mammogram and/or ultrasound shows an abnormality, a breast biopsy may be required to definitively characterize the finding.  This can be done using ultrasound or mammographic (stereotactic) guidance. During the procedure, a needle is directed into the area of concern anda  small piece of tissue is taken.  This tissue sample is sent to the lab to evaluate the tissue under the microscope.  This procedure is done by a Radiologist with the assistance of a mammographic or ultrasound technologist.

Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy

Ultrasound guided breast biopsies are the most common type of biopsy done.  This is done on lesions visible on ultrasound. These biopsies are done in the ultrasound department by a Radiologist with the assistance of an ultrasound technologist.  You will be lying down comfortably and awake for the procedure. Local freezing, similar to that used by at the dentist, is used to freeze the skin and breast tissue.  The needed is directed into the area of concern using ultrasound guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions on Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy

Stereotactic Core Biopsy

Abnormalities only detected on a mammogram will require a mammographic or stereotactic biopsy.  Often small (micro) calcifications are biopsied by this technique. This biopsy is done by a Radiologist with the assistance of a mammography technologist.

Frequently Asked Questions on Stereotactic Core Biopsy

Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy

A fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) is usually done on a cyst or cystic lesion. This can be done to reduce symptoms (i.e. pain) form a cyst or to assess the fluid and cells in the cyst.  Occasionally this type of biopsy is done on a solid lesion. This type of biopsy is done with a small needle with the fluid and cells sent to the lab for analysis. Local freezing is used for this procedure and is usually done with ultrasound guidance.  This procedure is done by a Radiologist with the assistance of an ultrasound technologist.

Frequently Asked Questions on Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy

Pre-operative Needle Localization Biopsy

Before surgery, you may need a pre-operative localization procedure.  During this procedure, the Radiologist will place a small wire through the lesion in your breast, so that the surgeon can locate the lesion during surgery.  This procedure can be done under mammogram or ultrasound guidance using local freezing.

Frequently Asked Questions on Pre-operative Needle Localization Biopsy

Breast MRI

Breast MRI is another imagine technique to evaluate the breast tissue.  This examination is used for specific indications such as high risk screening  (https://www.cancercare.on.ca), pre-operative staging in patients with known cancer as well as to evaluate findings that are inconclusive on mammogram and ultrasound. This test is available at the Oakville site of Halton Healthcare Services.

MRI uses magnetic fields to create high resolution images. No radiation is used in this technology.  In most cases of breast MRI, intravenous contrast or dye is required.  Some people may not be able to undergo breast MRI due to the presence of implanted medical devices such as a pacemaker , or claustrophobia.  As well, some patients may not be able to have the intravenous dye required due to allergies or medical issues such as kidney disease.

When you undergo breast MRI, you will be lying on your stomach.  The breasts will be positioned in mild compression to stabilize the breast tissue and to help make high quality images.  The MRI machine is a long tube and some people may feel claustrophobic inside the MRI machine.  If you suffer from claustrophobia, please discuss this with your doctor as you may require sedation to do this exam.  Your doctor can write a prescription for sedation for you if needed.  We do not have sedation available in the department and your test may have to be re-scheduled if you cannot tolerate the exam without sedation.

MRI  uses strong magnets, therefore it is essential that you remove anything metal — jewelry, snaps, belts, earrings, zippers, etc. — before the test. The technologist also will ask you if you have any metal implanted in your body, such as a pacemaker or artificial joint.

Breast MRI Biopsy

This is a new technology available at Halton Healthcare Services. This type of biopsy is done when a breast abnormality is only visible on MRI and not on Mammogram or Ultrasound.

This biopsy is performed in the MRI machine by a Radiologist with the help of an MRI technologist.  The procedure is done with the patient lying on their stomach with the breast in mild compression.  The MRI technology is used to find and biopsy the lesion.  A larger needle is required for this type of biopsy compared to mammographic or ultrasound guided biopsies. The procedure is done with local freezing.  The procedure will take 45-60 minutes and you will need to stay after the procedure for approximately one hour.  After the procedure, you will be tender and have bruising at the biopsy site.  You will be given post-biopsy instructions to take with you.

Biopsy results will be sent to your doctor in approximately 5-10 days.

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