Diagnostic breast ultrasound is used in addition to mammography to help distinguish the characteristics of a lump or a breast mass. Use of ultrasound allows the physician to avoid unnecessary surgical procedures. Ultrasound is performed by the radiologist when it is needed to help make a diagnosis, or to clarify mammographic information.
When is an ultrasound exam performed?
An ultrasound breast exam is used primarily as a diagnostic tool. It is not a primary screening method for breast cancer. It may be utilized when an area of concern has been found on a diagnostic mammogram.
You are experiencing nipple discharge, or have an area where the skin has retracted on your breast.
You have very dense breasts. The breasts are mostly dense tissue, rather than being composed of primarily fatty tissue, mammograms are not as predictive for detecting cancer because dense tissue shows up on the film as white in color, similar to the appearance of breast cancer. This may obscure or hide breast cancers.
How is an ultrasound examination performed?
While you are lying on your back on a padded table, a gel is spread over your breast, and a transducer is moved over the area of the breast to be imaged. This painless procedure uses sound waves to digitally show structures inside the breast. The images can be captured electronically and compared to your mammographic examination.
Do I need to do anything special before having this procedure?
No special preparation is required.
When will I get the results?
You will receive your results as a part of the report for your diagnostic exam, along with the results of your diagnostic mammogram.
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