If your clinician recommends an ultrasound after a mammogram, your first question is likely, “Is something wrong?”
Although you may feel a slight surge of panic, it might surprise you to learn that breast ultrasounds are quite common. They’re used as a diagnostic tool to help rule out abnormalities in a specific breast area.
For example, if a radiologist identifies an abnormality in your mammogram results, your doctor will order secondary testing, which may include a breast ultrasound, to make a definitive diagnosis.
Here’s the good news.
About 90% of mammogram findings turn out to be non-cancerous. Nevertheless, additional testing is still important to know for sure.
The fact that you had a mammogram demonstrates your commitment to taking a proactive role in your health. So, although you may feel nervous about scheduling another test, remember that it’s all part of preventative care and ensures that if something is detected, it’s typically in its earliest, most treatable stage.
Getting an Ultrasound after a Mammogram: Your Top Questions Answered!
In this guide, we’ll address a few popular questions regarding breast ultrasounds, including why doctors recommend them, how they compare to an annual mammogram, and what to expect during your appointment.
We hope this knowledge empowers you to take the next step in your breast health journey. Additionally, if you have any questions we did not address below, please contact us for support!
What Is a Breast Ultrasound?
A breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body. It’s a diagnostic tool that helps radiologists determine if an abnormality is solid or fluid-filled.
Rest assured that breast ultrasounds are safe imaging exams that don’t use radiation; therefore, they present no known risks.
How Do Breast Ultrasounds Differ from Mammograms?
A mammogram is a screening exam that helps doctors detect breast abnormalities. They’re recommended annually for women starting at 40.
The best way to understand the difference between the two tests is to remember that mammograms are the first step in detecting cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages.
During your appointment, a trained technologist positions your breast between two plates, compressing the breast to capture an image that is then analyzed. A breast ultrasound is a secondary line of defense used to closely examine the abnormality in question. Depending on the situation, your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram instead of an ultrasound or both.
Why Do I Need an Ultrasound After a Mammogram?
After reviewing the screening mammogram images, your radiologist may need to examine a particular area of breast tissue closely. In that case, you may receive a call back for a secondary screening.
For example, women with very dense breasts may need to have an ultrasound after a mammogram since a high-fibroglandular density will appear white on their results. Therefore, to rule out any potential risks, a secondary exam is recommended.
What Happens During a Breast Ultrasound?
Similarly to your mammogram appointment, you’ll be asked to undress and remove any jewelry from the waist up. You’ll also receive a gown to wear.
While lying on your back or side of the exam table, the ultrasound technologist will apply a special gel to your breast. A small handheld transducer device is then placed over the gel onto the breast.
The transducer sends out sound waves that travel through the body, bounce off the structures in the breast, and return to the transducer. An advanced software program processes this information and creates real-time images of the inside of the breast.
Can I Eat or Drink Before the Exam?
Yes. You may eat, drink, or take medications as you usually would. Here are a few other tips to help you prepare for a breast ultrasound:
- Dress in loose, comfortable clothing
- Wear a two-piece outfit so you can remove just the top
- Do not apply any lotions or powder to your breast area on the day of your appointment
Your doctor may give you additional directions based on your specific exam.
How Long Does a Breast Ultrasound Take?
The entire exam usually lasts about 30 minutes. After that, you may resume normal activities right away.
When Can I Expect My Results?
After your breast ultrasound scan, the radiologist will then review the images and talk with you about your results. We will send a finalized report to your referring physician within a few days.
I’m Feeling Nervous About My Exam. What Can I Do to Alleviate Stress?
It’s normal to feel scared or nervous, but again, it’s essential to remember that you are taking a proactive role in your breast health and doing everything possible to reduce your risk of cancer. It’s also important to know that you are not alone.
Our team is here to support you, answer your questions, and give you access to the most advanced, state-of-the-art technology to ensure you receive the most accurate diagnosis possible. We’ll also work directly with your healthcare team to ensure you feel cared for every step of the way.
Meet Our Care Team
We want to introduce our care team so you can feel good knowing you’re in the best capable hands during your appointment.
Every ultrasound technologist at our breast center has completed an approved training program and is licensed through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Breast Health Patient Navigator
Patients receiving a breast ultrasound after a mammogram will work directly with a Patient Navigator. This person is here to put your mind at ease and help you every step of the way.
She’ll answer your questions, help you understand your exam results and treatments, and provide support, including holding your hand during an exam. All you need to do is ask!
Our radiologists are board-certified experts in diagnostic radiology. In addition to their clinical expertise, each radiologist strives to make each patient feel comfortable and supported throughout their medical imaging exam.
Get Support. Feel Empowered. Take Control.
Are you overdue for your annual mammogram? If so, we can help. At The Breast Center of Maple Grove, we offer extended appointments for screening mammograms and can accommodate walk-ins and same-day appointments when possible.
Do you need an ultrasound after a mammogram, a diagnostic mammography, or a breast biopsy? You’ll be in good hands at our breast center. Our staff is ready to answer your questions and help you feel comfortable throughout your exam.