Mammograms Save Lives

Advanced and Diagnostic Breast Ultrasound

This article discusses diagnostic breast ultrasounds and their significance in breast cancer screening and evaluation. We’ll help you understand why someone might need a diagnostic breast ultrasound and what to expect during the procedure.

For expert care and peace of mind, consider scheduling an appointment with Maiden Lane Medical—your trusted gynecology practice in New York City. With our expertise in breast imaging and a new walk-in clinic in Murray Hill, NY, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive care for all aspects of your health.

A woman getting a diagnostic breast ultrasound.

What is a Breast Ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound is a medical imaging technique used to examine the breast tissue. It’s commonly employed alongside mammography for a more comprehensive evaluation of breast health. Unlike mammograms, which use X-rays, ultrasounds utilize sound waves to create images.

gynecologist performing breast ultrasound for cancer screening.

Why Would I Need a Diagnostic Breast Ultrasound?

A diagnostic breast ultrasound becomes necessary for various reasons, particularly when standard screening methods like mammography may not provide enough information. 

One common reason is dense breast tissue. Dense breasts have more fibrous and glandular tissue than fatty tissue. While this is normal and common, it can make it harder to detect abnormalities on a mammogram since both tumors and dense tissue appear white on the X-ray image. In such cases, a diagnostic breast ultrasound can provide additional clarity.

Women with dense breasts may benefit from a diagnostic breast ultrasound to supplement their breast cancer screening. The ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of the breast tissue. Unlike mammograms, which use X-rays, ultrasounds don’t rely on density to detect abnormalities. Instead, they can visualize different tissue types more clearly, making them especially useful for women with dense breasts.

What Should I Expect During a Breast Ultrasound?

During a breast ultrasound, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Preparation: You won’t need any special preparation for a breast ultrasound. You may be asked to wear a gown and remove any jewelry or clothing from the waist up.
  2. Positioning: You’ll lie on your back on an examination table. Your breast will be exposed for the ultrasound examination.
  3. Gel Application: A technician or radiologist will apply a clear gel to your breast. This gel helps the ultrasound probe make better contact with your skin and allows the sound waves to travel more easily.
  4. Ultrasound Probe: The technician or radiologist will then move a small handheld device called a transducer over your breast. The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves, which bounce off the structures inside your breast.
  5. Image Formation: As the sound waves bounce back, they are converted into images on a computer screen. You might see these images in real time during the procedure.
  6. Entire Breast Examination: The technician or radiologist will carefully examine the entire breast, focusing on any areas of concern identified during a previous screening mammogram or clinical examination.
  7. Comfort: The procedure is painless and non-invasive. You may feel slight pressure from the transducer as it’s moved over your breast, but it’s usually well-tolerated by most patients.
  8. Duration: A breast ultrasound typically takes around 15 to 30 minutes to complete, although this can vary depending on individual circumstances.
  9. Results: After the examination, a radiologist will review the ultrasound images and provide a report to your healthcare provider. You may receive the results during the same appointment or at a follow-up visit.

What Follow-Up Tests Might My Doctor Order?

After a breast screening ultrasound, if abnormalities are found or further evaluation is needed, your doctor may recommend additional follow-up tests to gather more information and make an accurate diagnosis.

One common follow-up test is an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. If the ultrasound reveals a suspicious area, your doctor may want to take a small sample of tissue for analysis. During an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, a radiologist uses ultrasound imaging to precisely target the abnormal area and guide a needle to collect tissue samples. These samples are then sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormalities are present.

In some cases, your doctor may also recommend additional imaging tests such as a breast MRI or a follow-up screening mammogram. A breast MRI can provide detailed ultrasound images of the breast tissue from different angles, helping to further evaluate any suspicious findings. It’s especially useful in detecting abnormalities that may not be visible on mammograms or ultrasounds alone.

Overall, the specific follow-up tests your doctor orders will depend on the findings of your diagnostic breast ultrasound and your individual medical history. These additional tests are essential for accurately diagnosing any abnormalities and determining the best course of action for your breast health.

What if It’s Breast Cancer?

If breast cancer is found after a diagnostic breast ultrasound or biopsy, your healthcare team will discuss treatment options with you. These may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. 

The specific treatment plan will depend on factors such as the type and stage of the cancer, as well as your overall health and preferences. Regular follow-up appointments and imaging tests will be scheduled to monitor your progress and ensure the effectiveness of treatment. Early detection through breast imaging, like ultrasounds, increases the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes.

Schedule an Appointment with Maiden Lane Medical Today

Diagnostic breast ultrasounds play a crucial role in breast cancer screening and evaluation, providing detailed ultrasound images that aid in early detection and treatment planning. 

If you have concerns about your breast health or are due for screening, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Maiden Lane Medical, a trusted gynecology practice in New York City. With our expertise in breast imaging and a walk-in clinic in Murray Hill, NY, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive care and peace of mind for all aspects of your health. Schedule an appointment today to prioritize your breast health and well-being!

Medically Reviewed By

Fernando Mariz, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology

Expert Medical Services

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