How It Is Done
A breast ultrasound is usually done by
a specially trained technologist.
You will be asked to undress
above the waist. You will be given a gown to drape around your shoulders.
Remove all jewelry from around your neck.
Gel will be put on your
breast so the transducer can pick up the sound waves as it is moved back and
forth over the breast. A picture of the breast tissue can be seen on a TV
A breast ultrasound test usually takes between 15 and 30
minutes. More time may be needed if a breast exam will be done or if a biopsy
is also planned. You may be asked to wait until a
radiologist has reviewed the pictures. The radiologist
may want to do more ultrasound views of some areas of your breast.
How It Feels
The gel may feel cold when it is put on
your breast. You will feel light pressure from the transducer as it passes over
your breast, but you should feel no discomfort unless your breast is tender
fibrocystic breast changes, an abscess, or another
infection. You will not hear the sound waves. A special Doppler ultrasound may
be used to check the blood flow to the breast; you can hear the sound waves
from this type of ultrasound.
There are no known risks in having a breast
ultrasound uses sound waves to make of picture of the
tissues inside of the breast.
radiologist may discuss the results of the ultrasound
with you right after the test. Complete results are usually available to your
doctor in 1 to 2 days.
- The breast tissue looks normal. If
the test is done on both breasts, the tissue looks similar.
- A fluid-filled sac (cyst) is present. A fluid-filled lump that is evenly
shaped and has no particles floating in it is likely to be a simple cyst. This
may not need more tests. See an ultrasound image of a
simple breast cyst.
- A cyst is found that has particles in it (a
complex cyst). This may need more tests.
- A lump is found that looks
solid. Depending on the lump, your age, and other medical factors, you may need
biopsy or follow-up with other tests.
What Affects the Test
You may not be able to have the
test or the results may not be helpful if you have an open wound in the breast
What To Think About
- An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy may allow your doctor to
confirm a suspicious lump is
benign without surgery.
- A breast
ultrasound may occasionally be used instead of a
mammogram if you are younger than 30 and have concerns
X-rays or should not be exposed to any radiation
because you are pregnant. For more information, see the topic
- A breast ultrasound may be
useful for screening young women with a family history of breast cancer. More
study is needed to see if ultrasound is good for this purpose.
ultrasound does not replace a mammogram. An ultrasound can be used to check a
problem seen on a mammogram. It can also be used to show more detail in women
who have dense breasts. For more information, see the topic
- A breast
MRI is another type of test that may be used for
breast exams after surgery or to check dense breast tissue. Breast MRI may be used along with a mammogram and breast ultrasound to check breasts or breast lumps.