Breast Ultrasound: In Addition To Traditional Mammograms

Breast Ultrasound: In Addition To Traditional Mammograms

Breast ultrasound: What is it and when is it used?


Ultrasound is a way to noninvasively evaluate breast tissue.  This exam uses sound waves instead of radiation to create images. This type of exam uses a special gel and a probe gently pressing on the breast. Ultrasound of the breasts is a common examination often used along with or following a mammogram.  Breast ultrasound may be the preferred breast imaging method when a patient is breast feeding/lactating as the breast tissue can often be better visualized by ultrasound during this time. Ultrasound may also be the first imaging step in younger (less than 30) or pregnant patients as there is no radiation.


Breast ultrasounds are used to augment mammograms, providing different but complementary information. Ultrasounds are helpful when a mass or lump is detected, as ultrasound is excellent at telling cysts from solid masses. Ultrasound may be used to problem-solve when something is found on a screening or diagnostic mammogram. Mammograms are not replaced by breast ultrasound as some things like microcalifications show up more clearly by mammography. This is so important, we will say it another way.  A breast ultrasound cannot replace mammography for screening for breast cancer, it is used to improve breast evaluation.


Because breast ultrasounds are good with different types of tissue, they are also helpful for  women with dense breasts (about 40% of the population).


Breast ultrasounds are performed by trained technologists. The procedure itself takes about 15 minutes or a little more; the images are then shown to the radiologist. And many clinics will let you know the outcome or results right away.



Originally posted 4/29/13 on