What is the difference between breast ultrasound, mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?
Breast ultrasound, mammography or magnetic resonance imaging of the breasts are the top 3 diagnoses recommended for all women, as regular examinations, at least once a year. These types of diagnosis are of great importance and methods to detect possible changes in breast tissue on time. Early detection of any changes, such as breast cancer, significantly improves the prognosis of the disease.
Breast ultrasound is a fast, painless, and harmless technique of examining the breast through ultrasound waves that pass through the breast. Breast ultrasound analyzes the skin, subcutaneous fat, mammary glands, nodules, or cysts in the breast and can be used to distinguish benign from malignant changes in the breast.
Reasons for ultrasound examination of the breast can be regular check-ups, breast pain, a lump in the breast, which can be a harmless mastopathy, a benign tumor fibroadenoma or cyst, but also a malignant change - breast cancer. Breast ultrasound is recommended for all women under the age of 40 at least once a year, especially in the presence of mastopathy, post-operative scars, taking birth control pills, or in the case of implants.
If suspicious changes are shown on examination, they will be punctured under ultrasound control and the material further will be sent for cytological analysis. Ultrasound examination of the breast usually includes an examination of the lymph nodes in the axillary pits.
Mammography is an X-ray of the breast tissue and is a very important diagnostic method when examining the breasts of women older than 40 years. There are two types of mammography:
- screening mammography, imaging the breasts of healthy women to detect tumors that cannot be felt by touch and,
- diagnostic mammography for women who can feel and touch a change in the breast. The World Health Organization recommends screening mammography to be applied for two years, while for diagnostic mammography, the radiologist determines the further rhythm of the examination.
If the need arises, the doctor will request additional imaging, or recommend an ultrasound examination. The reactivity of mammographic examination depends on the density of breast tissue as well as the constitution of the patient, childbirth, and length of breastfeeding, menopausal status, as well as other factors.
Mammography should be done if you feel a lump in the breast, if you notice a change in the hardness of the breast or part of the breast, if the glands under the armpit are enlarged, regularly after the age of forty, or if there is a hereditary factor.
MAGNETIC RESONANCE OF THE BREAST
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is not the first choice radiology diagnostic procedure, unlike ultrasound and mammography.
Breast MRI is an additional diagnostic method for the assessment of changes seen on ultrasound and mammography, or as a preventive method for women in whose immediate family there were breast tumor changes before the age of 50.
Usual indications for breasts MRI are:
- Monitoring of tumor change: size changes, determining whether the change affects the surrounding tissue, whether the changes are present in both breasts, whether the lymph nodes are enlarged, which shows that the tumor changes spread beyond the breast. Based on this examination, the doctor will recommend a biopsy or will decide, according to the patients’ condition, that monitoring the changes is enough for now.
- For changes in the axillary area - to see if these changes are also found in the breasts
- Before the application of chemotherapy and after the application of the same to see what the response to the therapy is
- After breast tumor surgery
- After implant placement to check for rupture and leakage
A special condition for MRI of the breast is that the examination is performed from the 6th to the 14th day of the period. This type of examination is always done by applying contrast.
If you have no experience with a magnetic resonance imaging examination or simply want to learn more about this type of examination, see general information about MRI examinations. For any additional questions, feel free to contact the medical staff of our Eurodijagnostika clinic.
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