ZocdocAnswersWhy are ultrasounds necessary after MRIs?

Question

Why are ultrasounds necessary after MRIs?

Is it true that in some cases a person should get an ultrasound after they have already gotten an MRI? I have to ge a clinical breast exam and I have read that multiple scans of different types are necessary, but I don't understand why this should be. If one scan works, why use the other?

Answer

Breast cancer screening is a common topic as it is important for most adult women. It is unfortunately a confusing topic as well. If you have specific concern, I recommend you talk to your primary care doctor. A mammogram is the most basic screening technique. This uses X-ray technology. Unfortunately, there are some specific types of cancer that it can miss. Overall, for the general population it is still the best screening option. An MRI is a different technology that uses magnetic waves to look at the breast tissue. In general, this can see more stuff than the mammogram. Keep in mind, there are some things that the mammogram sees some things that the MRI doesn't, and the MRI sees stuff that the mammogram doesn't. They are different technologies, but in general the MRI gives more information than the mammogram. An ultrasound is a third technology that can be used. It uses sound waves and can again differently characterize lesions, therefore sees things than neither of the above two can. It is very helpful it two situations. One is in cystic (or hollow) lesions. This can help the radiologist see exactly what is inside the lesion. The other reason for an ultrasound is that it can be easy to biopsy a lesion (put a needle in it). There are many different technologies that can characterize different lesions better. That is why we often use a combination of them to really understand the lesion before performing a procedure such as a biopsy. Talk to your doctor for further information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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