diagnosing patient breast symptoms

Diagnostic Mammography

Providing More Detailed Views

If a Washington Radiology breast imaging specialist notices something on a patient’s screening mammogram that requires further evaluation, the patient may be called back for additional images or a diagnostic mammogram. The diagnostic evaluation serves as the next step to clarify any abnormalities detected during a screening mammogram or doctor's exam.

Women detecting abnormalities during a self-exam (lump, discharge, dimpling) would bypass the screening mammogram and would be scheduled for a diagnostic exam.

Compared to screening mammography, diagnostic mammography requires a longer appointment time because our radiologists review the images on site and you will receive your results before you leave the appointment.

It should be noted that, while learning you need a diagnostic exam can be particularly alarming to women, they aren’t necessarily a cause for concern. A diagnostic mammogram is simply the next step in clarifying any areas of concern detected.


Washington, DC
University Medical Building
2141 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037
P: 202-223-9722 | F: 202-659-2819
HOURS: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Chevy Chase, MD
Chase Tower
4445 Willard Avenue, Suite 200, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
P: 301-654-4242 | F: 301-907-7414
HOURS: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Potomac, MD
Park Potomac
12505 Park Potomac Avenue, Suite 120, Potomac, MD 20854
P: 240-223-4700 | F: 240-223-4701
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available
Fairfax, VA
Four Seasons Three
3022 Williams Drive, Suites 104, 200, 204, Fairfax, VA 22031
P: 703-698-8800 | F: 703-573-2318
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Sterling, VA
Lakeside @ Loudoun Tech Center I
21351 Ridgetop Circle, Suites 100, 150, Sterling, VA 20166
P: 571-434-0140 | F: 571-434-0144
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., September 25 (screening mammograms only)
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., October 2 (screening mammograms only)

Preparing For Your Diagnostic Mammography Exam

Patient peace of mind starts with the right preparation. To obtain the best possible study results, it is important that you follow the instructions below.

During scheduling, a Washington Radiology team member will review with you the preparation instructions specific to your Diagnostic Mammography exam. These instructions are repeated here for easy reference.

You may wish to schedule your mammogram at least 7-10 days away from your menstrual period as women report less breast tenderness mid-cycle. However, this is not a requirement and should not affect your results. 

On the day of your exam:

  • Wear a 2-piece outfit—skirt and top or pants and top. You will only need to remove your top and bra.
  • Don’t apply deodorant before your exam. Avoid deodorants, lotions, powders, creams or perfumes on the day prior to your exam. They can interfere with the images.
  • Consider an over-the-counter pain medication if you find having a mammogram is uncomfortable for you.

In addition to the written order from your doctor, please remember to bring to your appointment any prior mammography images or reports from outside Washington Radiology.

If you have any follow-up questions about these preparations, please contact the Washington Radiology office where your exam is scheduled and ask to speak with the nurse.