Therapeutic Ultrasound for Plugged Ducts and Mastitis

What is ultrasound?

 • A sound wave is sound energy that is transmitted from one molecule to the next.  An ultrasound wave is that which has a frequency of greater than 20 KHz. 

Why use ultrasound?

 Solids and liquids consist of molecules held together by elastic forces that behave like rubber bands connecting each molecule to each of its nearest neighbors.
 • If one molecule is set in vibration, then it will cause its immediate neighbors to vibrate, and in turn their neighbors, and so on until the vibration has spread throughout the entire material. This is a wave.

What happens during the ultrasound?

 Sound energy is nonionizing radiation and therefore its use does not impose hazards such as cancer production and chromosome breakage that are attributed to ionizing radiation. 

Sound energy has two physiological effects: 
1. Enhance inflammatory response and tissue repair
2. Heat soft tissue

Ultrasound energy produces a mechanical pressure wave through soft tissue.  Heating tissues using ultrasound has the following effects: 
• Decrease the viscosity of fluid elements (plugged milk)
• Decrease pain perception by slowing nerve conduction speed
• Increase blood flow which assists in the reduction of swelling
• Stimulate the immune system

Can ultrasound be used with everyone?

NO.  Here's the list of conditions that prevent ultrasound from being an option for treatment:
• Cancer
• Active tuberculosis
• Psoriasis
• Decreased circulation
• Pregnancy
• Joint cement
• Plastic components
• Pacemakers
• Thrombophlebitis
• Uncontrolled bleeding or blood-thinning medication (coumadin/warfarin). 

Is it painful?

 No.  The ultrasound waves are painless and sometimes cause a slight warming sensation. 

What happens after the ultrasound?

 The IBCLC will ensure that all ductal openings are clear of any tissue debris, infection, or clogged milk.  Then a hospital grade breast pump will be used to efficiently remove as much of the milk as possible, while utilizing techniques to finalize the removal of any plugged, stagnant, infected, or otherwise troublesome milk.  The lactation consultant will also discuss any other symptoms, signs, treatment recommendations, or collaborative steps needed to include other members of the healthcare team.

We follow Dr. Jack Newman's protocol for treating mastitis.  Click here to view his website and learn more.