Breast ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to examine the breasts.
Ultrasonography of the breast; Sonogram of the breast
How the test is performed
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a medical gown.
During the test, you will lie on your back on the examining table.
The doctor or nurse will place a gel on the skin on the breast. A hand-held device (called transducer) is rubbed over the breast area. You will be asked to raise your arms above your head and turn to the left or right as needed.
The device sends sound waves to the breast tissue. The sound waves help create a picture that can be seen on a computer screen.
The number of people involved in the test will be limited to protect your privacy.
Breast ultrasound may also be used to guide a needle during a breast biopsy.
How to prepare for the test
You may want to wear a two-piece outfit, so you do not have to completely undress.
On the day of the test, do not use any lotions or powders on your breasts. Do not wear deodorant under your arms.
How the test will feel
This test usually does not cause any discomfort.
Why the test is performed
Your doctor may order this test if you have:
- A breast lump found during a breast exam
- An abnormal mammogram
A breast ultrasound can help:
- Tell the difference between a solid mass or a cyst
- Look for a growth if you have clear or bloody fluid coming from your nipple
A normal result means the breast tissue appears normal.
What abnormal results mean
Ultrasound can help show noncancerous growths such as:
- Cysts -- fluid-filled sacs
- Fibroadenomas -- noncancerous solid growths
- Lipomas -- noncancerous fatty lumps that can occur anywhere in the body, including the breasts
Breast cancers can also be seen with ultrasound.
Follow-up tests to determine treatment may be needed:
What the risks are
There are no risks associated with breast ultrasound. There is no radiation exposure.
Stavros TA, The Breast. In: Rumack CM, Wilson SR, Charboneau JM et al. eds. Diagonostic Ultrasound. Philadelphia Pa:, Mosby Elsevier, 2010:chap 20.
Lee, Carol H., et al. "Breast cancer screening with imaging: recommendations from the Society of Breast Imaging and the ACR on the use of mammography, breast MRI, breast ultrasound, and other technologies for the detection of clinically occult breast cancer." Journal of the American College of Radiology: JACR 7.1 (2010): 18.
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