Women’s imaging encompasses a range of modalities, including mammogram, breast ultrasound, breast MRIs, obstetric and gynaecologic MRIs.
Mammography is dedicated x-ray of the breasts, and can be performed in asymptomatic women (screening mammogram) or those with symptoms (diagnostic mammogram). Ultrasound is generally considered complementary to mammography, and may be performed for assessment of an area of potential abnormality seen on mammogram, or to ensure the breast tissue is normal. In some women (such as those under the age of 35, or when pregnant/lactating), ultrasound is recommended as a first line investigation. An ultrasound- or mammographic-guided biopsy may be conducted if a radiologist requires a sample of breast tissue for pathologic examination.
While mammograms and breast ultrasounds are primarily concerned with the structure of breast tissue, MRI permits radiologists to assess the function of the tissue (i.e. the physiology). Breast MRI is performed for specific indications, such as for surgical planning, and for screening in high risk populations (i.e. inherited genetic mutations).
Obstetric ultrasounds are performed as routine checkups for mother and baby. These may include early dating, nuchal translucency, morphology, and third trimester ultrasounds. Nuchal translucency ultrasounds are particularly important, as they can identify a pregnancy with an increased chance of chromosomal abnormalities – this includes Down syndrome, Patau syndrome, and Edwards’ syndrome.
Pelvic MRIs may be useful in the diagnosis of endometriosis or other fertility-related issues. It provides an image of the organs inside the pelvis, and is able to provide additional information regarding possible endometrial growths. They are also conducted if there is unexplained infertility or pelvic pain, can detect fibroids, and are useful for further investigation of pelvic masses and abnormal vaginal bleeding.