Ultrasound produces images of the internal structures of the breast by using high frequency sound waves. Breast Ultrasound is noninvasive, painless, and uses no radiation. Ultrasound may safely be used during pregnancy and on those with a contrast dye allergy. Based on the findings, the radiologist can determine whether a suspicious mass is fluid- filled, such as a benign cyst, or solid, such as a noncancerous mass or cancerous tumor. However, a breast ultrasound cannot determine whether a lump is 100% cancerous and, if necessary, a tissue biopsy would be recommended for a positive or negative confirmation.
If you’re under the age of 30, an ultrasound may be recommended to evaluate a palpable finding before, or in addition to, a mammogram. Mammograms can be difficult to interpret in young women because their breasts tend to be extremely dense. However, with the use of tomosynthesis mammograms, radiologists are able to visualize findings in dense breasts more effectively than with 2D mammograms. Most breast lumps found in young women turn out to be benign, such as a cyst or a fibroadenoma. It is important that a palpable finding be evaluated by imaging to confirm.
In addition, a physician may use an ultrasound device to aid in determining where specifically to do a biopsy or cyst aspiration. Because an ultrasound provides real time imaging, it allows the physician to locate the suspicious finding accurately and safely preform the necessary testing.