Mammogram Views for Routine and Diagnostic Screening

What Are the Two Angles of View for a Routine Mammogram?

Nurse preparing patient for mammogram, rear view
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During a routine mammogram, each of your breasts will be imaged separately with two different views of each breast. Each view shows somewhat different details and territory.

  • Cranio-caudal (CC) view is taken from above a horizontally-compressed breast
  • Mediolateral-oblique (MLO) is taken from the side and at an angle of a diagonally-compressed breast

Cranio-Caudal View (CC) A CC view of your breast may be taken during a routine mammogram as well as during a diagnostic mammogram. It will show as much as possible of your glandular tissue (ducts and lobes), the surrounding fatty tissue and the outermost edge of your chest wall muscle. Your nipple will be shown in profile. The CC view can't capture much of the breast tissue that is in your armpit and upper chest.

Mediolateral-oblique (MLO) An MLO view of your breast may be taken during a routine mammogram. The angle of an MLO allows more of your breast tissue to be imaged (it covers the main area of your breast) as well as the tissue in your armpit. It will show glandular as well as fatty tissue, and it covers a larger area than a CC view.

Other Views May be Taken for a Diagnostic Mammogram

  • Lateromedial (LO) - from the outside towards the center
  • Mediolateral (ML) - from the center towards the outside
  • Spot compression - compression on only a small area, to get more detail
  • Cleavage view - both breasts compressed, to see tissue nearest center of chest
  • Magnification - to see borders of structures and calcifications

Why Use So Much Compression? The goal of a mammogram is to get the clearest possible image of your breast tissue while using the least amount of X-ray dose to get that image. Proper compression helps create the best image because:

  • less motion results in clearer edges (less blurring).
  • more breast tissue can be seen all at once if it’s compressed (spread out, fewer shadows).
  • X-rays can pass through a thinner amount of tissue more efficiently.
  • a smaller dose of X-rays is needed to create the image.