Analog vs Digital Mammography Machine

This article has been updated 04-10-2023

Mammography is used to detect and examine changes in the breast tissue.
This is why mammography systems are so important in women’s health care.

Analog mammography machines were the standard for many years. However, in 2000, the FDA approved the first full-field digital mammography machine, which improved image quality dramatically.

Since then, 3D mammography has become superior when it comes to image quality.

To learn more about tomosynthesis in mammography, just scroll to the end – you will find our blog about it.

Differences Between an Analog and Digital Mammography Machine

So, what is the difference between analog and digital mammography?

Analog mammography uses low dose radiation that produces X-rays to detect tissue changes.

It captures the X-ray beams on film cassettes, and the outcome is a film showing the breast from different angles, which can be examined on film or translated by a CR to a digital image.

On the other hand, a digital mammography machine captures X-ray beams on a digital detector. This detector then converts the X-ray beams into electronic signals, which are transferred to a computer.

In the end, the computerized images are available for review on a specialized high-resolution monitor.

Furthermore, the digital images can be analyzed by radiologists using the options and tools of the console/workstation.

For instance – magnifying, masking of light, inverting (negative of the image), and comparing them to previously obtained mammograms.

Do you want to know more about advantages and disadvantages of analog mammography machines?

Just keep scrolling.

What is the difference between an analog and digital mammography machine?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Analog Mammography

Analog mammography is not as common on the market anymore, as the new standards for breast imaging is increasingly digital and 3D mammography.

But then, what are the advantages of analog mammography?

  • One of their few advantages is that they are cheaper than digital mammography. However, as digital has become the most common machine, their prices has gone down slightly, and now the price difference between analog and digital is smaller.
  • Maintenance costs are also generally cheaper than for digital. But you need an extra piece of equipment – a CR, if you want to convert to digital images.
  • Furthermore, there is a reason that the digital mammography machine has taken over – the image quality is better. And handling, analyzing, and archiving images is much easier.

For the above reasons, unless your budget does not allow it, we recommend a digital mammography. We list more reasons below.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Digital Mammography Machine

What are advantages of digital mammography?

Some of the main advantages of digital mammography is, for example, the 30-40% lower radiation dose exposure, the ability to detect cancer at an even earlier stage and the increased workflow. However, there are many advantages and we’ll go over a few more of them here.

Main advantages:

  • More efficient workflow as the images are available immediately on the computer
  • A monitor in the room instantly displays the image, which allows for repositioning of patients if necessary and therefore leads to fewer retakes
  • The digital detector provides crisp images, even of larger breasts
  • You can easily transfer images electronically to a central location for diagnosis (utilizing Picture Archiving and Communications System – PACS)
  • Easy analysis of images
  • Radiation doses are 30-40% lower than for analog systems
  • Earlier detection of cancer, also in those with denser breasts
  • Finally, it works very well with Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) devices

One of the disadvantages of digital mammography is that they are a bit more expensive. However, you can find some used digital mammography machines at an affordable price.

For example, the Fuji Amulets have a good price. You can read more about mammography pricing in our blog.

Advantages of Digital and Analog Mammography Machines

Sum Up – Analog vs Digital Mammography Machines

When choosing which type of mammography machine you want, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages and weigh them up against your needs.

The main takeaway, however, is that if you have a decent budget, you should aim for a digital mammography machine.

Even though analog might be slightly cheaper both in purchasing and maintenance cost, you cannot deny the added benefits of a digital system.

Furthermore, with analog you will probably need a CR as well, which is an extra piece of equipment to purchase and maintain. An additional cost.

Are you looking to purchase a used digital mammography machine?

Then don’t hesitate to reach out.
We have many amazing machines in stock.

What is the difference between analog and digital mammography?

One of the main differences is that analog mammography uses low dose radiation that produces X-rays to detect tissue changes. The images will be analyzed on film, or you can use a CR to digitally translate the images.

However, the digital mammography machine captures X-ray beams on a digital detector. The detector then helps you convert the X-ray beams into electronic signals, and these are transferred to a computer.

What are the advantages of analog mammography?

Analog mammography systems are usually cheaper than a digital mammography machine – both when it comes to the purchasing price and the cost of maintenance.

So, buying an analog system will save you some money. However, we strongly recommend digital mammography machines if your budget allows it.

Is digital mammography better than traditional?

There are many advantages of digital mammography, which is why these systems are often preferred compared to the traditional machines. Some of these reasons are due to its more efficient workflow as it offers the images immediately. This allows for easy analysis. Also, the detector helps provide crisp images, even of the largest breasts. This is a huge advantage of digital mammography as this improves early diagnostics.

Of course, it is also highly convenient that you can transfer images electronically to a central location for diagnostics, using the PACS system.

Prepare yourself even better for your next mammography purchase, by completing our guide on how to pick a system. The guide covers the most important considerations.

Sign up and get the mail course, walking you through each factor.

You can also get to know us better on our Youtube channel. We have quite a few videos talking about mammos and other modalities.

And if you ever need a spare part for your digital or analog mammography machine, just reach out to us.