Automated Breast Ultrasound Screening At NCH

What is ABUS?

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NCH offers the most advanced breast cancer screenings.

Mammograms are essential for all women, but 40 percent of women in the U.S. have dense breast tissue, which can hide abnormalities in mammograms.

Here are two important facts you should know:

  • Women with extremely dense breasts are 4-6 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with normal breast tissue.*
  • It is estimated that mammograms alone miss more than one-third of breast cancers hidden in women with dense breasts.

If you have ever been told your mammogram results were "inconclusive," then you may have dense breast tissue and qualify for a secondary test using ABUS (Automated Breast Ultrasound Screening) technology.

ABUS screenings do not replace mammograms. Mammograms find calcifications in the ducts that can indicate cancer. ABUS screenings do not show calcifications, but reveal other abnormalities hidden by dense breast tissue. That's why it's important to always have a mammogram first.

Download a brochure on ABUS or read the frequently asked questions.

First in the northwest Chicago suburbs

NCH is the first breast center in the northwest suburbs to offer the somo•v® Automated Breast Ultrasound system, the only technology developed and FDA-approved as a secondary screening for women with dense breast tissue without additional radiation.

How it works

ABUS screenings are painless and comfortable. A wide field-of-view transducer is placed on your chest while you are lying down that scans the entire breast. This advanced system produces a 3-D image that can "see through" dense breasts to reveal areas that the radiologist was not able to view with enough precision on your mammogram.

An ABUS screening can be scheduled as you make your mammogram appointment at the NCH Breast Center, if it is determined by the radiologist that you have dense breast tissue. ABUS screenings are available at the Breast Center location at Northwest Community Hospital, and the outpatient NCH Breast Center at Arlington Heights Road.


How to get an ABUS screening

Make a one-hour Results by Request® appointment. To make an appointment, call 847-618-3700.

If the radiologist indicates that you have dense breasts, you may be able to have an ABUS screening following your mammogram appointment.

Check with your insurance company. According to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are mandated to cover screenings. Most insurance companies are aware of this new ABUS imaging modality and have some form of coding in place. However, we always encourage patients to check with their insurance providers before having imaging tests.

To learn more about ABUS screenings for dense breasts, call 847-618-7431 or ask your physician. To schedule a mammogram and possible ABUS screening, call 847-618-3700.


ABUS - FAQs

Do I have dense breasts?

Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram.

Breasts are made up of a mixture of fibrous and glandular tissue and fatty tissue. It does not matter what size or shape your breasts are. Your breasts are considered "dense" if you have a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue and not much fat.

There are four categories of breast density:

  • Almost entirely fatty
  • Scattered areas of fibroglandular density
  • Heterogeneously dense
  • Extremely dense

Why does it matter?

Breast cancer is more common in women with dense breasts and can be more difficult to detect with mammography. The denseness of the fibrous and glandular tissue can mask abnormalities in a mammogram.

Do I still need a mammogram?

Yes. Mammography is still essential because (1) it still finds more cancer cells than us, and (2) it picks up calcifications in the ducts, which can be an early sign of cancer; ABUS screenings do not show calcifications. An ABUS screening is a secondary screening only for women whose breast density could be masking other abnormalities.

How do I find out if I have dense breasts?

The radiologist will indicate breast density in your mammography report and the letter you will receive in the mail. If you had your last mammogram at one of our NCH locations, you can call 847-618-3700 and ask us to check your report.

Otherwise, if you have ever been told your mammogram results were "inconclusive," then you may have dense breast tissue. You may schedule your next mammogram and a supplemental ABUS screening, if indicated, during your mammogram appointment.

What happens during an ABUS screening?

The somo•v® Automated Breast Ultrasound system is the most advanced technology ever developed to screen women with dense breasts.

The process is simple: you will lie down on the exam table and a layer of lotion will be applied to your breasts. Then a sheer membrane covering the transducer is firmly positioned on your breast. The scanning process takes less than 60 seconds. ABUS screenings use sound waves (not radiation) to create state-of-the-art 3D ultrasound images of the breast tissue. After the screening, the radiologist can view the images along with your mammogram results to be sure every portion of the breast is thoroughly examined.

Is it painful?

You will feel some pressure as the transducer is positioned on your breast, but it is a pain-free process. To learn more about ABUS screenings for dense breasts, call 847-618-7431 or ask your physician.

To schedule a mammogram and possible ABUS screening, call 847-618-3700.

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Learn more about dense breasts from the experts at NCH