The breast ultrasound imaging procedure is usually performed via Doppler technique and has three main purposes: ascertaining the nature of breast abnormalities, acts like a guide for tissue biopsy and to confirm cancer formations. Doppler ultrasound is a special application of sonography typically learned in the higher-education ultrasound technician schools and its role is to evaluate the speed and direction of the blood cells as they move through the vessels. Students that learn this medical technique in a specialized ultrasound tech school are also taught how to interpret the results and the results he finds are usually discussed with a physician.
Breast ultrasound imaging presents both risks and benefits
Most women prefer ultrasound breast screening because it is a non-invasive procedure and it is painless. In addition, the procedure is currently widespread, does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation and it is more affordable than any other imaging techniques. Further advantages of ultrasound compared to other imaging techniques are that it can offer clear pictures of the soft tissues and can help discover small lesions and interpret them adequately. Moreover, since it provides real-time imaging the physicians have the opportunity to perform minor invasive procedures and correct abnormalities before they develop further.
It is worth pointing out that the standard ultrasound techniques do not pose any real threats to the body. However, the medical world acknowledges that the tissues are experiencing certain effects, such as cavitation and an undetectable rise of temperature. The other risks associated with the procedure are mainly indirect and are related to the limitation to the approach. For instance, while ultrasound can detect abnormalities, certain cancerous formations and calcifications are not visible. In addition, most suspicious formations classified as possible cancers have been overruled after performing a breast tissue biopsy.
The future of breast ultrasound imaging
A relatively new practice in sonography, namely the elasticity imaging, is a promising technique that can provide clearer images and reduce the breast biopsies while increasing the correct distinctions between lesions and cancerous formations. In essence, the elastography is an adjustment of the regular ultrasound examination that can examine suspicious formations in the breast more accurate by estimating how much the tissue moves when it is pushed. Overall, the procedure is more sensitive and can easily detect the softness or stiffness of the suspicious formations located at the breast level.
Even though the success rate of lesions and cancer detection with elastography is impressive, one question remains: Can ultrasound replace the mammography screening? In order to clarify this aspect, this guide needs to offer some explanations regarding the purpose of the breast examination techniques. While mammography is a screening of the entire breast, ultrasound is mostly used for diagnosis purposes.
Therefore, it is advisable to have the entire breast examined first and then use ultrasound for very dense areas of the breast or to further examine irregular formations. In conclusion, despite the fact that the current ultrasound applications have helped detect early cases of breast cancer, they are still not fully able to replace mammography.