What is Ultrasound Imaging of the Breast?
Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body.
Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (x-ray). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs. Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Determining the Nature of a Breast Abnormality
The primary use of breast ultrasound today is to help diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a physician during a physical exam and to characterize potential abnormalities seen on mammography.
Ultrasound imaging can help to determine if an abnormality is solid (which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst). Ultrasound can also help show additional features of the abnormal area.
A chest CT scan can also be used to screen for lung cancer in former or current cigarette smokers who are at much greater risk of cancer than nonsmokers. CT is able to detect even very small abnormalities that could be early lung cancer and are not be visible on a conventional Chest X-ray.
Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening
Mammography is the only screening tool for breast cancer that is known to reduce deaths due to breast cancer through early detection. Even so, mammograms do not detect all breast cancers. Some breast lesions and abnormalities are not visible or are difficult to interpret on mammograms. In breasts that are dense, meaning there is a lot of breast tissue and less fat, many cancers can be hard to see on mammography. Over half of women under age 50, and about a third of women over age 50, have dense breasts.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and to wear a gown during the procedure.