Breast ultrasound certification test coming

April 12, 2000

When used with traditional x-ray mammograms, sonographers say breast ultrasound can be an effective way for clinicians to cross-check images of cysts, calcifications, and other suspicious growths.To spur interest in ultrasound breast imaging, leading

When used with traditional x-ray mammograms, sonographers say breast ultrasound can be an effective way for clinicians to cross-check images of cysts, calcifications, and other suspicious growths.

To spur interest in ultrasound breast imaging, leading physicians and sonographers met this year to develop the first breast ultrasound certification exam. The exam will be offered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Breast ultrasound has been used extensively in Europe and Japan, but has been slow to catch on in the U.S.

Cynthia Rapp, a sonographic practitioner and chair of the ARDMS’ breast task force, led a classroom session at the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine’s annual convention in San Francisco this month on breast sonography.

Ultrasounds may be able to determine the amount of water density in the breast more accurately than the traditional x-ray mammogram.

“Anytime there is the presence of water density, that is when (sonographers) may order an ultrasound,” said Rapp.

Rapp said ultrasound works most effectively with a 10-MHz probe and harmonic tissue imaging.

Unfortunately, these features are more commonly found on high-end machines, she said.

“If you can afford a $300,000 machine for breast imaging, that is fabulous. But most breast centers are purchasing medium-range machines,” she said.

Ultrasound can identify ruptures in silicone breast implants and systems with color Doppler can be used to image cysts effectively, Rapp said. However, breast ultrasounds can produce artificial shadows that may confuse sonographers.