It is a well-known fact that in the initial stages any disease is easier and faster to cure, so you shouldn’t refuse regular check-ups. This is especially true of the female half of humanity – most of the pathological processes of the mammary glands proceed without severe symptoms without in any way encouraging a visit to a specialist.
Thanks to breast ultrasound, you can quickly and painlessly diagnose many diseases in their initial stages. This allows you to prescribe appropriate therapy on time and save the woman from serious complications and even premature death.
In addition to the prevention and detection of pathologies, ultrasound examination of the mammary glands is indispensable for the postoperative and recovery period.
Advantages of the method
Breast ultrasound in women has many advantages over other research methods. First, the procedure does not imply exposure to harmful radiation exposure, but is carried out using high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations that do not cause absolutely no effect on the body.
Secondly, unlike X-rays, the image of the mammary glands can be obtained in real time, and not only in the form of images.
This allows under the direct control of ultrasound to carry out surgery, for example, when taking a tissue sample (biopsy) for analysis. These advantages of the technique provides not only excellent visualization of the smallest tumors in the mammary glands, but also the determination of the quality of the tumor, its structural features and boundaries.
Often breast ultrasound is used to refine the mammographic results.
Indications for examination
Every girl and woman should check the state of health of the mammary glands with a certain regularity. Thus, female individuals under the age of 30 need to undergo an ultrasound examination annually.
And after 30, a mammography is added to the breast ultrasound, which is the examination of the mammary glands with X-rays.
In the event of symptoms, such as:
- breast tenderness
- rough nipples and skin around them
- nipple discharge
- changes in the color and condition of the skin
- the appearance of seals in the glands
- swollen lymph nodes in the chest area
- changing the size, contour and shape of the breast,
You should definitely make an appointment with a mammologist for an examination, consultation and receiving a referral for an ultrasound diagnosis. It is possible that during the medical examination it will also be recommended to visit an oncologist to exclude or confirm suspicion of the formation of tumors.
In addition to the detection of pathological manifestations, ultrasound is used in the planning of pregnancy, monitoring processes in the glands during pregnancy and lactation. The harmlessness of the method allows it to be carried out when breastfeeding.
Breast ultrasound during breastfeeding often helps to quickly and effectively identify the pathology that has arisen. The procedure is carried out to assess the condition after trauma or inflammation in the chest area, check after surgery, installation of chest implants.
Ultrasound is regularly prescribed with hormone therapy to track possible changes in the glands. It is important to regular examination for persons with negative heredity in the form of breast cancer. Sometimes with hormonal disorders, it is recommended to carry out an ultrasound scan in childhood, since these may be the initial manifestations of not only pathologically early puberty, but also an oncological process.
In men, the ultrasound examines the mammary glands also in case of hormonal abnormalities or traumatic and inflammatory processes in this area.
According to world statistics, oncological processes of the mammary glands most often develop after 50 years, so before this age it is recommended that the procedure be carried out at least once a year, whereas after 50, at least 2 times. Male pathologies of the mammary glands are much less common, so ultrasound is recommended for them no more than once every 3-5 years.
What diseases can be detected by breast ultrasound?
In the process of carrying out the procedure, it is possible with a high probability to determine almost all pathologies of the mammary glands. Diagnostics has long become indispensable in medical practice, because it shows breast ultrasound:
- inflammatory processes (mastitis, abscess)
- benign neoplasms (mastopathy, adenomas, fibromas, lipomas)
- malignant tumors of various tissue origin.
To evaluate the characteristics of seals, elastography is used – an ultrasound technique that makes it possible to determine the elasticity of the tissues of the mammary glands, lymph nodes and other soft-tissue structures. The procedure is called “virtual palpation”, that is, it allows the doctor to “probe” organs with a sensor.
Elastography in most cases can replace a biopsy, in no way inferior to it in diagnostic aspects, but saving the patient from damage to the integrity of the skin and the part of the organ.
How to choose the optimal time for the diagnosis?
Breast ultrasound does not require any specific preparation, the only thing that a woman should know when planning to undergo an examination is on which day of the menstrual cycle it is necessary to visit the diagnostic room. As a rule, the optimal time for the procedure is 5–12 days of the menstrual cycle. It is during this period that the hormonal background is the most even, the mammary glands are not swollen, and are more effectively visualized by ultrasound.
Later, after a few days, the body will gradually be prepared for a possible pregnancy and the female breast will be less suitable for examination.
In a situation where a woman takes hormonal contraceptives or has already reached menopause, there is no fundamental value on what day the procedure will be performed. In these states, the hormonal background is quite stable, and nothing can prevent the successful collection of diagnostic information.
There is also no need to choose a specific day during pregnancy, during the lactation period and during an irregular menstrual cycle. If the chest suddenly became painful, redness appeared and the temperature rose, then the procedure should be completed immediately.
The principle of the survey
The procedure itself is very simple, because they do an ultrasound of the mammary glands, leading the radiator over the surface of the skin, allowing the sensor to capture the reflected ultrasonic waves and transmit to the monitor screen. Modern devices create not only a two-dimensional image, but also a three-dimensional one, as a result of which one can view both the photo of the studied organ and real-time video. The duration of the study is usually not delayed more than 20-30.
The patient is conveniently located on the couch, having previously removed all outerwear. The doctor-uzist applies a special water-based gel to the emitter so that the subject does not have any unpleasant sensations while moving the sensor.
The gel allows you to smoothly slide the emitter, and ensures its tight contact with the skin. The patient has her hands above her head to allow the doctor to examine the mammary glands and adjacent areas – the armpits, the surrounding muscles and others.
The emitter slowly moves over the skin, fixing the wave reflection of tissue structures, and displays the information processed by a computer program on the screen. At the end of the procedure, the patient can be free – there are no restrictions for follow-up, since ultrasound does not have any effect on the physical or psycho-emotional state of the patient.
If the decoding of the results obtained is promised in a short time, then the woman can wait a bit and immediately pick them up.
In some situations it may be necessary to repeat the procedure. This may be necessary to clarify controversial issues or to track the dynamics of prescribed therapy. Do not worry, wondering how often you can do an ultrasound of the mammary glands – this is superfluous.
The safety of the method allows you to pass it at least several times a day.
What is more informative mammography or breast ultrasound?
What research is better and able to give the most reliable and complete data on the state of the breast – mammography or breast ultrasound? This question is absolutely not correct.
These two methods complement each other. A mammograph makes it possible to assess the state of soft tissues, and an ultrasound machine allows you to further examine the adjacent lymph nodes – axillary, subclavian and conduct a dynamic examination.
Ultrasound provides a thorough examination of tissues located close to the chest, for example, allows you to diagnose the formation of glandular nodes adjacent to this area. Mammography is the optimal diagnosis for the detection of intraductal pathologies and clarification of the nature of tumors.
But without the use of ultrasound is not enough, because the ultrasound shows the presence of metastatic foci.
If necessary, the doctor will prescribe both examinations to get the most accurate results. Therefore, there is no doubt whether it is possible to do or not, to postpone the passage of one or another method, and read reviews of past procedures, and go mentally prepared for diagnosis.