Difference Between A Mammogram And An Ultrasound (With Table)

Every one in eight women in the United States develop breast cancer in the period of their lifetime. Early trace of breast cancer can save lives. It can be checked through screening by you or your doctor to check changes in the tissue of the breast. Mammograms and Ultrasound can help in evaluating through screening.

A Mammogram vs An Ultrasound

The main difference between A Mammogram vs An Ultrasound is that Mammogram uses a low rate of radiation to take an image of the breast. On the other hand, in an ultrasound, no radiation is involved. It takes an image of the breast by using high-frequency sound wave and then convert them into an image.

Difference Between A Mammogram And An Ultrasound

A mammogram can be used to detect breast cancer through screening. A mammogram can detect breast cancer three years before developing a tumor inside the breast. During a mammogram picture of the breast is taken through x-ray imaging which can further help in evaluating the tissue size of the breast.

An ultrasound uses sound waves that create a picture of the inside of the body. In ultrasound screening, there is no involvement of radiation so it is also safer for people who need to avoid x rays or other radiation-based imaging, especially pregnant women. During a Biopsy of the breast, it can use as a visual guide.

Comparison Table Between A Mammogram and An Ultrasound

Parameter for comparisonA MammogramAn Ultrasound
Image modalityIn Mammogram Imaging X-ray uses radiation from electromagnetic waves (EM waves) to capture an image of the breast.During Diagnosis tests through ultrasound uses sound waves to capture a picture of the inside of the breast
Reason for imagingA mammogram can use to detect breast cancerIf there is a need to do a biopsy of the breast, then the physician order to do breast ultrasound for collecting a sample of tissue.
Quality of imageIn a mammogram, the picture captures tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications). This deposit is often seen as an early sign of breast cancer.In an ultrasound, the picture doesn’t capture tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications). This deposit is often seen as an early sign of breast cancer
Age factorA mammogram can be recommended for any age except for the pregnant lady and those needed to avoid x rays.Physicians generally order to do an ultrasound of the breast if patients are under the age of 30.
Size of tissueA mammogram is unable to detect cancer in women having dense breast tissue.If a patient has dense breast tissue, then the physician request doing an ultrasound for good quality imaging.

What is A Mammogram?

A mammogram is used for early detection and screening tools for breast cancer. It would be needed more frequent mammograms in women who are at higher risk of breast cancer than women who are at low risk. All mammograms are not the same, there are two manners of doing mammograms: screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms.

Screening mammograms are normally done for women patients who have no signs of breast cancer. Screening mammograms are considered at average risk for breast cancer. It would take 10-15 minutes and does not need the supervision of physicians

Diagnostic mammograms are used when patients experience symptoms of abnormal screening means there is a sign of breast cancer in women. It is more detailed than screening mammograms. In diagnostic mammograms, physicians use more x-ray and zoomed images that’s why it takes a longer time. There is a need for physicians during monitoring the diagnostic version.

The procedure for a diagnostic mammogram is the same as a screening mammogram. Diagnostic mammograms generate more images than screening. Both types of mammograms use low x-ray.

What is An Ultrasound?

Ultrasound use sound wave to create an image inside the body. It can help health providers to find the breast problem in women. It helps in seeing how well blood is following inside the breast. Through a transducer, physicians look inside the breast. The transducer sends sound waves that bounce back from the breast tissue. The transducer then picks a sound wave and made into a picture of the inside of the breast.

When screening mammograms producer unusual results or physical exams of the breast. The physician also uses breast ultrasound during the biopsy of the breast. Breast ultrasound does not use x-ray or any radiation it would be good for pregnant ladies and those needed to avoid x-rays and other radiation.

Ultrasound may be used if women have dense tissue breast and are younger in age. However, it cannot use screening tools for breast cancer in women because it cannot detect early signs of tumor and does not capture tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications). This deposit is often seen as an early sign of breast cancer.

Main Differences Between A Mammogram vs An Ultrasound

  1. A mammogram can be used for early detection of breast cancer in women whereas ultrasound can be used when some sign of breast cancer has already been seen.
  2. A mammogram uses an x-ray for imaging whereas an ultrasound uses sound waves for imaging
  3. A mammogram can detect macrocalcifications in the breast whereas ultrasound cannot detect this.
  4. A mammogram can be more effective in screening tests of breast cancer and also detect tumors inside the breast whereas ultrasound has no such effect in the screening of breast cancer.
  5. A mammogram can get a large picture of breast whereas an ultrasound does not get an accurate image.


Physicians either recommend ultrasound or mammograms depending upon the need. Both can help women in dealing with breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the main causes of death in women due to cancer. It starts with tissue and leads to a major problem inside the breast.

So, it would be good to detect breast cancer types of problems through screening via a mammogram method or an ultrasound method in the early stage because early detection can save the lives of women of every age.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/181896
  2. https://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/36/8/4359.short