A breast ultrasound is used to help diagnose breast abnormalities previously discovered during a physical exam or through mammogram screening. Abnormalities can range from a breast lump, solid mass, or either bloody or clear spontaneous nipple discharge.
Ultrasound imaging, or sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves to produce precise internal images. Ultrasound images help radiologists draw a more conclusive diagnosis as images are captured in real-time and illustrate internal structure, movement and blood flow.
Ultrasound imaging can show additional features of the abnormal area and assist in determining if the abnormality is solid (which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst) or both cystic and solid.
Breast Ultrasound Screening Procedure
While most commonly used as a diagnostic exam, ultrasound is sometimes recommended as a breast cancer screening procedure for women who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- High risk for breast cancer and unable to tolerate an MRI examination
- Intermediate risk for breast cancer based on family history, personal history of breast cancer, or prior biopsy revealing an abnormality
- Dense breast tissue
- Silicone breast implants with very little tissue that can be included on the mammogram
- Women who are pregnant or should not be exposed to x-rays