Q & A: How do I find a “good” breast imaging center? Does it make a difference where I go?
Posted on October 24, 2012 by ambergray.
By Stacey Vitiello, MD
Yes, it matters where you choose to go for your mammogram! The most basic requirement is whether a facility is accredited under the MQSA (Mammography Quality Standards Act). The accrediting body for most states is the ACR (American College of Radiology), which has a list of requirements and tests that facilities must comply with in order for the centers to achieve accreditation. They look at things such as equipment and film quality, radiation dose, credentials of the mammography technologists and of the radiology doctors who interpret the films, quality of reporting and follow-up, etc.
The ACR has a convenient webpage for you to search for accredited facilities in your vicinity.
When you see the results of your search on the ACR site, look for this badge next to the names of the breast centers on your list:
This symbol means that the center has jumped through many extra hoops to attain status as a “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.” My own practice in New Jersey has been designated as a Center of Excellence, after a lot of work by many people. It’s worth your while to go to one of these centers if it’s practical for you, depending on where you live and how far you are willing to travel. It can make your life easier down the line because if you ever need to have additional testing or a needle biopsy, these centers can handle it and won’t need to send you elsewhere. At the very least, these facilities have demonstrated their commitment to their patients by dealing with the bureaucracy and mounds of documentation necessary to achieve this special status. It’s not a guarantee of higher quality, but it’s a good sign.