Breast Ultrasound is used to generate images of the internal makeup of the breast and can also assess blood flow in identified breast masses. One of its main uses is to help in the investigation of breast abnormalities found during physical exams such as nipple discharge or a lump. Its other primary use, as explained in the article Ultrasound Specialists, is to provide further information about possible anomalies detected by mammogram or breast MRI. It is also used to supplement breast cancer screening in cases where mammogram images do not lend themselves to clear interpretation.
Breast ultrasound provides a screening option for women who are pregnant and must avoid X-ray exposure, and it can help guide needle biopsy procedures. For those women at high risk for breast cancer because of family history or because they carry a specific breast cancer gene, breast ultrasound in combination with mammograms can provide better screening than mammography alone.
Limitations of Breast Ultrasound
This combination of mammography and breast ultrasound screening is limited to use in high-risk cases only because breast ultrasound has a relatively high incidence of false positive screening results. Its other limitations include the fact that it cannot replace mammography or clinical breast exams because many cancers cannot be detected using ultrasound and because most abnormalities indicated by ultrasound do not turn out to be cancerous. Some insurance plans do not cover the procedure, and it is unavailable at any rate in many healthcare facilities. Where available, it requires highly skilled sonographers specialized in evaluating real-time breast ultrasound images.