Skip to content

Breast ultrasound, what is the difference with mammography?

Mammography  and Breast ultrasound are the two most important diagnostic tests for the periodic evaluation of the breast and its conditions. Their role is central in preventing breast cancer, the most common form of cancer among the female population.

If this form of cancer is the most diagnosed carcinoma in women, cure rates are increasing and mortality is decreasing. This is thanks primarily to prevention efforts, focused on well-defined protocols aimed at diagnosing the disease early and allowing for the most effective and least invasive treatment possible.

The difference between these two diagnostic methodologies lies in the technology they utilize. Breast ultrasound is based on the principle of ultrasound, while mammography works by emitting radiation. With the progress of technology, the most modern mammography machines are able to perform exams with extremely low doses of radiation.

Breast ultrasound allows for the detection and evaluation of any anomalies while sparing the patient the (albeit minimal) dose of radiation that characterizes mammography. This is possible in young women, due to the specific conformation of the breast.

Breast evolution

The female breast is indeed an organ characterized by continuous evolution. Throughout life stages (infancy, puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause), a woman’s breast undergoes a metamorphosis that changes its appearance and functionality.

During infancy, the breast has the same conformation in both sexes. With the onset of puberty, a woman’s breast begins a transformation process, thanks to the action of sex hormones produced by the ovaries. These hormones, estrogen, cause the gland to mature and the breast to increase in volume.

As the years go by, the mass of glandular adipose tissue increases. Simultaneously, the areola tends to enlarge and darken, while the nipples begin to protrude.

After pregnancy and any breastfeeding, the final phase of physiological breast evolution is menopause. During this period, the breast is characterized by the prevalence of adipose tissue over glandular tissue. With the fibroadipose involution of the glandular bodies, the breast evolves into a less compact and firm shape.

Differences between breast ultrasound and mammography

Breast ultrasound is an ultrasonographic examination, based on the emission of ultrasound waves. It allows for the evaluation of the structure of adipose tissue and fibrous tissue of the breast. For this reason, it is indicated for women under 40 years of age, whose breast has a denser glandular structure, as it can identify the possible presence of nodules and study their nature without the use of radiation.

Specifically, in young women, it enables the observation of dense glandular structures, highlighting within them multiple small fluid-filled cysts (fibrocystic mastopathy) or detecting benign solid nodules such as fibroadenomas.

When both breasts are examined, it is referred to as bilateral breast ultrasound, whereas if the examination is limited to only one breast, it is called unilateral breast ultrasound. For women over 40, breast ultrasound is usually performed in conjunction with mammography.

Mammography is a radiographic examination. Through the emission of low-dose radiation (non-harmful), it provides valuable information on microcalcifications and small-sized nodules (not visible with ultrasound) or neoplasms in early stages. It is useful for women who, with advancing age, have a breast in adipose involution, characterized by the reduction of glandular tissue and the presence instead of a good amount of fatty tissue.

Mammography is usually recommended after the age of 40, and in the case of women with a family history of breast cancer, the age may be lowered to 35 – 38 years.

When to undergo breast ultrasound

For young women, it is recommended to undergo breast ultrasounds annually. This is the case if no nodules or changes in breast consistency and size have been identified, and if there is no family history of breast cancer. In these cases, it will be the specialist doctor who will assess the need for more frequent checks. When reaching the age of 50, it is advisable to undergo a mammogram every two years, increasing the frequency from the age of 70 in accordance with the attending physician.

Breast undergo at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini”

At MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” breast ultrasound is performed using a Philips Affiniti 50 ultrasound machine, which enables quick examinations with particularly accurate results. To undergo breast ultrasound, booking is mandatory. To make an appointment, you can send an email to, call our reception at +39 0587.609134, or fill out the form below.

Le ultime news


Pain is a reality that affects everyone at some point in life. It can manifest…


Rheumatology is a branch of medicine that focuses on the study, diagnosis, and treatment of…


Water therapy is a widely recognized and utilized rehabilitation method for treating a broad range…

Back To Top