Breast Ultrasound (Sonogram)
Did you know that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States? It accounts for 1 of every 3 cancers diagnosed. A chance of a woman developing breast cancer at some time in her life is approximately 1 in 8 (12%). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. Two of the top most ordered exams are Screening Mammography and Breast Ultrasound.
Breast Ultrasound is a painless radiology exam that can be used to diagnose abnormalities of the breast in a non-invasive manner. It is often performed and used to help diagnose and detect breast cancers. Breast ultrasound often accompanies mammogram to increase the accuracy (without more radiation) in women under age 50 who might have more dense breast tissue.
Here are two types of mammograms which are done for different reasons:
- Screening Mammogram: serves as an early preventative measure for patients that do not show signs or symptoms of breast cancer.
- Diagnostic Mammogram: done for patients who do show abnormal breast signs and symptoms such as a breast lump, breast pain, an unusual skin appearance, nipple thickening, or nipple discharge to help in diagnosis and proper treatment.
Breast Ultrasound (Sonogram)
When to test
It is extremely important for women to get breast screening exams regularly because early detection of breast cancer can save a life.Ultrasound may be used if you:
- You have particularly dense breast tissue and a mammogram may not be enough to see through the tissue.
- Are pregnant. Mammography uses radiation, but ultrasound does not. This makes it safer for the fetus.
- You have a breast lump filled with fluid (a cyst) or a solid lump.
- Are younger than age 25
Are these procedures safe for pregnant woman?
Ultrasound is safe to have during pregnancy because it does not use radiation. It is also safe for people who are allergic to contrast dye because it does not use dye.
How do you prepare for an Ultrasound?
Avoid using deodorant, antiperspirant and other cosmetics products that may have aluminum prior to the test. Aluminum can be seen on a mammogram and can obstruct the view leading to possible misinterpretations by the radiologist. Do not wear jewelry during the examination. If your breasts are sensitive, take an OTC pain medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen one hour before the exam which helps to alleviate some discomfort.
Radiology facilities usually have a suite strictly designed for this procedures. The patient will be asked to lay flat on the US table for 10-15 minutes. The technician will use a wand-like device called a transducer over your skin to make the images of your breasts. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off your breast tissue. The sound waves are too high-pitched for you to hear. The transducer then picks up the bounced sound waves. These are made into pictures of the inside of your breasts.