Difference Between Mammogram and Ultrasound

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a diagnosing process used for determining the early signs of breast cancer. It uses ionizing radiation(lower-energy X-rays) to detect minute deposits of calcium salts that cannot be felt and are formed in clusters. This makes mammography a very accurate process.

The process involves parallel plates, a mammography unit, and reduced scattering of radiation. A mammogram can further be subdivided into digital and 3D forms. A digital mammogram does not require the use of X-rays.

A 3D mammogram is used to create three-dimensional images of the human breast, using X-rays. It shows positive test results when used in addition to the normal mammogram. However, the amount of radiation exposure is doubled through this form of detection.

Mammogram results are expressed in the form of BI-RADS. This assessment scale ranges from one to five. One means the status is unknown and five means that the tumor is detected.

Albert Salomon is credited for performing the first mammography. He did this by comparing X-ray results of the breast and removing tissues. This allowed him to establish a difference between the cancerous and non-cancerous human breast. The core aim of his research was to detect microcalcifications.

What is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is the process of diagnosing various parts of a human body through sound waves. The target of an ultrasound is to find the source of the disease and avoid any form of pathology. It is also used to generate an informative wave of sound for clear visuals.

The process involves producing ultrasonic images by sending high-frequency sound waves into the tissue or organ. These frequencies are higher than the normal range of human hearing. Next, a probe detects the pattern and creates imagery of the internal structure. The image formed gives a distinct detail and is often called an ultrasonic image.

Different types of images can be formed using this technique. The most common one is the B-mode image which helps in recognizing the cross-section of the tissue. The other form of image is significant for blood flow or the motion of vessels.

Ultrasound is preferred for patients who cannot undergo an X-ray form of diagnosis. Because it doesn’t deal with radiation in any form. However, it is not referred to for extremely minute detections. This is why it is used more commonly for a younger set of individuals.

Ultrasound is highly effective in pregnancy. It helps to create visuals of a growing fetus or embryo and helps to determine the phase of the womb. Many countries include this method as a normal form of parental care in their standard curriculum.

Difference Between Mammogram and Ultrasound

  1. Mammograms involve the use of radiation for detection, whereas ultrasound doesn’t require any form of radiation.
  2. A mammogram is specifically used for the human breast while ultrasound is used for multiple organs and tissues.
  3. A mammogram can detect minute microcalcifications whereas ultrasound cannot detect that minutely.
  4. A mammogram is mostly used for women over the age of 30 years while ultrasound is implemented for younger individuals.
  5. A mammogram uses X-rays while ultrasound utilizes soundwaves

Comparison Between Mammogram and Ultrasound

Parameters of comparisonMammogramUltrasound
FunctionUsed for diagnosis of human breastUsed for diagnosis of joints, tendon, tissues, or any part of the human organ
TechniqueLow energy X-raysImaging technology/Sound waves
Detection Can detect microcalcifications which are early signs of breast cancerCannot detect minute microcalcifications
ValueMammograms are more expensive than UltrasoundUltrasounds are cheaper than a mammogram
AccuracyMammograms are more accurate for a minute findUltrasound is less accurate for minute finding


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/181896
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12282-010-0223-8