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Breast Ultrasound may be used to evaluate abnormalities seen during a screening or diagnostic mammogram.
Ultrasound has become a valuable tool in a breast specialist’s arsenal against breast cancer. This test is painless and does not expose you to radiation; however ultrasound does not replace the need for mammography.
Breast ultrasounds have not been found to be effective in detecting very early signs of breast cancer, like micro-calcifications, and therefore should only be used in conjunction with mammography. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and experiencing a breast problem, your physician may request a breast ultrasound to avoid exposure to radiation.
A breast ultrasound uses high frequency sound wave to produce a sonar-type image of the breast tissue. During a breast ultrasound, you will lay on a table. A thin layer of lubrication will be applied to the breast and a radiology doctor will scan the breast using a hand-held transducer. The sound waves are directed through the breast, bouncing back and providing two dimensional images.
The images produced may aid the radiologist in determining if a lesion seen within the breast is a solid tumor or a fluid filled cyst.
Breast elastography may also be performed during your ultrasound examination. Elastography is a feature of ultrasound in which the area of abnormal tissue is evaluated to measure the degree of stiffness. It is estimated that cancerous tissue is 5-28 times stiffer than normal soft tissue. Therefore, this measurement may aid the radiology doctor in detecting or classifying tumors.
Breast ultrasound may also be used by the doctor to guide the needle during a breast biopsy.
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