Breast Ultrasound sends high frequency radio waves through the breast tissue and electronically converts them into visual images. WDI frequently uses Ultrasound as a supplemental imaging modality to mammography for women with dense breast tissue. On a mammogram, breast tissue is radiographically white and tumors are white making them difficult, if not impossible, to find. On Ultrasound, the breast tissue is sonographically white, however the tumors are gray and easier to see.
Ultrasound is a comfortable non-invasive procedure, performed manually with a hand held transducer, or with Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (AWBUS), which WDI introduced in 2013.
The automated exam accumulates 3000 to 5000 images in a cine format so it is viewed like a movie and can be speeded up, slowed down, fast forwarded and reversed to review areas of interest. The images are taken at a constant speed, unlike hand held Ultrasound which is dependent on the technologist’s movements, so that if there are small cancers, they will be seen in a number of frames. Changes from image to image (graduation) can be seen that might be missed in a series of still images.
DIAGNOSTIC BREAST ULTRASOUND
Diagnostic Breast Ultrasound is used to determine if a suspicious area is a cyst (non-cancerous round, fluid filled pocket inside the breast), or solid mass that may require a biopsy. Ultrasound cannot determine conclusively whether a solid lump is cancerous. CALCIFICATIONS ARE ALSO DIFFICULT TO SEE ON ULTRASOUND, which is why Ultrasound is a supplement to but not a replacement for mammography.
SCREENING BREAST ULTRASOUND
Screening Breast Ultrasound may be recommended for women who are at high risk, or have dense breast tissue, in addition to their annual mammogram. MULTIPLE STUDIES HAVE FOUND an additional 2 – 4 INVASIVE cancers per 1,000 women when Ultrasound is added to mammography. WDI recommends selected patients to alternate their annual mammogram with Ultrasound at six month intervals for earlier detection of cancers that can develop in between mammograms (interval cancers).