Breast ultrasound is a mammography completion test and allows early detection of breast diseases. But when should it be done? And how much is it?

Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic investigation, which allows anatomical and structural investigation of the breast. This study uses ultrasounds to study the parenchyma of the mammary gland, ie low-frequency, high-intensity sound waves that are inaudible to the human ear and harmless to the body.

The ultrasounds are reflected by the tissues of the breast, giving rise to waves that are recorded by the ultrasound probe and transformed by the central unit of the instrumentation into two-dimensional images visible on the screen. This survey makes it possible to identify possible densities, areas of opacity and nodular formations, as well as to distinguish lesions with a liquid content from solid ones.

Ultrasonography is therefore essential for the diagnosis of breast cancer, but also to verify the presence of inflamed tissues (mastitis, abscesses) and alterations of the lymph nodes of axillary cables. Usually doctors tend to prescribe bilateral breast ultrasound, in order to investigate both breasts with a single visit. However, in suspicious situations where it is necessary to act diligently, it is possible to concentrate on a single breast.

Breast ultrasound or mammography?

These are the two tests that monitor the state of health of the breast parenchyma. Breast ultrasound, as we have seen, is a diagnostic investigation that is performed through the use of ultrasounds, while mammography is a radiographic examination.

The first is used to investigate the dense mammary tissues of young women, in which the glandular component prevails, while the second type of examination is aimed at identifying micro-calcifications or small nodules, especially in female figures that have a breast in involution, therefore with more than 40 years.

Breast ultrasound: when to do it

This non-invasive examination is not a screening test indispensable for early diagnosis, therefore it should not be performed periodically by asymptomatic women, but must be performed on medical indications if there is a suspect symptom, such as a palpable nodular formation.

As regards, instead, mammography is usually recommended after the age of 40, but it is above 60 years that this diagnostic technique becomes indispensable, since in this age group the breast begins to be richer in adipose and poorer tissue of the glandular one.

Expected costs for breast ultrasound

For the execution of a breast ultrasound the cost foreseen, under private law, is variable. However, it usually ranges from 60 to 140 euros/dollars, depending on the specialist and the chosen structure. This non-invasive examination, however, can also be carried out using the National Health System (SSN), where the disbursement of a ticket is required, the amount of which is normally not very high (around 30-35 euros/dollars) and varies from one region to another.

Breast ultrasound is, however, free only in the event of possible pathological exemptions (E49), or if it is used as a monitoring tool for the disease that has affected one or both breasts, such as, for example, a tumor.

Nevertheless, it is good to remember that prevention is essential to lead a healthy life: healthy eating and physical activity consistently are two fundamental aspects. Therefore, exams such as breast ultrasound should not be underestimated, as well as related symptoms, since they can make the difference between a long and healthy existence and a brief and pathological one.


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