Breast ultrasound is an imaging test that produces images of the breast using high-frequency sound waves. As the sound waves bounce off internal breast tissues, they create echoes, which a computer translates into images on a screen. Like other imaging tests of the breast, breast ultrasound can show abnormalities and disease within the breast. It is fast, painless and completely free of radiation or harmful side effects.
There are two types of breast ultrasound tests performed at RIS—diagnostic and screening.
Diagnostic breast ultrasound is a test that is recommended to determine the nature of a breast abnormality. When a mammogram or self-examination reveals a suspicious area, breast ultrasound can be used to help diagnose it and characterize it. With breast ultrasound, the radiologist may be able to determine if the abnormality is a non-cancerous (benign) lump of tissue or a cancerous (malignant) tumor.
We utilize advanced technology called Automated Breast Ultrasound (also known as ABUS) for screening breast ultrasound. Automated Breast Ultrasound is a supplemental screening tool for women with dense breast tissue. Although mammography is the only screening test known to reduce deaths due to early detection, it does not detect all breast cancers. This is especially true in women with dense breasts, as the mammogram cannot always differentiate between the fibrous tissue in a dense breast from specific types of abnormalities. Screening breast ultrasound gives the radiologist another, important perspective in breast imaging.
Who qualifies for a breast ultrasound?
Women who have an abnormal mammogram may be recommended for a diagnostic breast ultrasound. Women with dense breast tissue are advised to talk with their doctor about supplemental screening breast ultrasound. Breast ultrasound may also be an option for women with implants, women who are pregnant, or women who are unable or unwilling to have a breast MRI.
Under what conditions should breast ultrasound be performed?
- Diagnostic breast ultrasound is used to evaluate breast lumps found during a physical examination, ultrasound, or mammography.
- Breast ultrasound may also be used to “characterize” a suspicious mass, to help differentiate between cancer, a cyst or other benign growth.
- If, on her last mammogram report, a woman was notified that she has dense breast tissue (BI-RADS categories B, C or D), she may benefit from a screening breast ultrasound (ABUS).
Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique that does not require exposure to radiation.
Breast ultrasound has been shown to detect breast lesions that are sometimes missed by mammography.
Breast ultrasound is less expensive than other forms of testing
Breast ultrasound can help a woman avoid an unnecessary biopsy.
For breast ultrasound, no special preparation is required.
Please make the physician and/or technologist aware of the following information:
- The date of last menstrual period
- If you are post menopausal
- If you are pregnant or experiencing a late menstrual period
- If you are you taking oral contraceptives or receiving hormonal treatment
- If you are you taking any type of fertility medication or having fertility treatments
- If you are you currently breastfeeding
Breast ultrasound is an exceptional tool for breast cancer detection, diagnosis and staging. This technology must be administered by experienced practitioners who understand its appropriate uses and limitations. Radiology & Imaging Specialists has extensive experience in all facets of breast imaging and ultrasound. Our board-certified radiologists, technologists, and specialized equipment offer state-the-art breast imaging and interpretations.