Ultrasounds can be more detailed and specific than mammograms, as they can reach areas of breast tissue that mammograms cant. They are carried out using a small handheld probe, called a transducer, that releases soundwaves into the breast tissue and produces an image of any abnormalities.
The procedure is painless and noninvasive. It may be recommended by your doctor if you have abnormal results, to check a breast lump, and to evaluate the need for a biopsy. Mammograms are typically used later in life when the breast tissue is less dense.
It is an x-ray test that is used to detect breast cancer. The breast is pressed between two x-ray plates which flatten the tissue. This can cause some discomfort. If your mammogram shows any abnormal areas of breast tissue, you may be asked to come back for further testing.
An ultrasound can be a more detailed and specific diagnostic method than a mammogram, as it can show parts of the breasts, such as the area closest to the chest wall, which are harder to image with a mammogram. Unlike x-ray or CT scan, no radiation is involved.
A doctor may recommend that you have a breast ultrasound if your mammogram shows abnormal results, or to check a breast lump to see whether it is fluid-filled (a cyst) or a solid lump, which may in turn require a biopsy.
A mammogram is done using two glass plates attached to an x-machine. These plates gently press the breast tissue, which allows for a clearer picture to be taken, and two images are taken of each breast, at different angles. The pressure of the plates on the breasts can be uncomfortable, and in some cases the discomfort may last for a few hours after the x-ray.