Ultrasound uses sound waves similar to those used during pregnancy to look at the fetus. It does not have any radiation. Breast Ultrasound is used as an adjunct to mammography in the same fashion that MRI complements mammography.
The most common indication for breast ultrasound is for a palpable finding, meaning something that is found by the physician or patient on a physical exam. Ultrasound is also used for masses, distortion, or unequal breast tissue (asymmetries) seen on mammography. It may also be helpful following an MRI if an abnormality needs to be biopsied. Ultrasound may be used as a guidance modality in performing minimally invasive breast biopsy.
The routine exam typically takes 15-20 minutes. Warm jelly is applied to the breast in the specific area of concern either based on a physical exam or abnormal mammogram/MRI finding. The exam is performed by a specially trained ultrasonographer. The radiologist may or may not scan the patient themselves. This will depend on the findings. The images will be reviewed by the reading radiologist and discussed with the patient prior to their departure from the office. There is no compression or radiation involved with this exam.