A breast ultrasound is used to help diagnose breast abnormalities previously discovered during a physical exam or through mammogram screening. Abnormalities can range from breast pain, a breast lump, skin changes, or bloody or clear 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), fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst) or both cystic and solid.
Breast Ultrasound Screening Procedure
While most commonly used as a diagnostic tool, ultrasound is sometimes recommended as a breast cancer screening procedure for patients 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
- Breast implants with very little tissue that can be included on the mammogram
- Because people who are pregnant should not be exposed to x-rays, we perform breast ultrasounds as an alternative to mammograms during pregnancy.