Breast Sonogram Breast Ultrasound

Overview & Description

A breast ultrasound is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves toform images of tissues and other structures inside the breast.

Who is a candidate for the test?

Doctors may recommend this test so that they can:

  • clarify an abnormal finding from amammogram
  • determine whether a lump in the breast is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid tumor
  • pinpoint a lump that cannot be felt so that fluid can be drawn out of it or a tissuesample can be taken
  • An ultrasound may also be used to evaluate a woman who has possible signs ofbreast cancer.In some cases, this test is used instead of a mammogram.Some examples of when this test might be used include:

  • a pregnant woman whose fetus could be harmed by the radiation of amammogram
  • a woman who refuses a mammogram due to fear of radiation
  • a woman whose silicone breast implants may interfere with amammogram
  • a woman younger than 25 years, because younger women often have densebreast tissue that’s hard to see clearly on a mammogram
  • How is the test performed?

    The test takes about 15 minutes. A healthcare provider can perform thistest in an office, clinic, or hospital. Usually, a woman puts on a hospital gown thatopens at the front before the test.

    There are two ways to perform the test.

  • The woman lies on her stomach on a special exam table. Set into part of thetable is a tank of heated water. The woman places her breast into the water. Theperson performing the test places a scanning tool that sends out sound waves at thebottom of the tank.
  • OR: The woman lies on her back. The healthcare provider puts a small portion ofgel on the woman’s breast. This gel helps transmit sound waves. Next, thehealthcare provider takes a scanning tool that sends out sound waves and moves itaround on the breast.
  • In either method, the sound waves bounce off internal tissues of the breastand then return to the scanning tool. A computer converts the sound waves into ablack-and-white image. The healthcare provider can then read this image of the internalpart of the breast.

    In some cases at the time of the ultrasound, a doctor may insert a needleinto the breast to obtain tissue for a breast biopsy.The images from the ultrasound help guide the needle into the right area of the breast.

    When the test is finished, the healthcare provider will dry the breast or wipe the gel off. Thewoman may then dress and leave.

    Preparation & Expectations

    What is involved in preparation for the test?

    On the day of the test, the woman should not put any lotions or powderson her breast. No other preparation is generally required.

    Results and Values

    What do the test results mean?

    Test results are usually sent to the woman’s healthcare provider, whothen discusses them with her. In some cases, ultrasound will show no problem in thebreast. Abnormal findings may include:

  • a benign cyst, which means the lump or mass is not cancer
  • an abscess, or pus-filled pocket, in the breast
  • breast cancer,which can only be diagnosed if a needle was used to sample a piece of breast tissue
  • a bruise
  • fibrocystic breast disease,which causes benign lumps in the breast
  • other benign tumors, such as one called an adenoma
  • Article type: xmedgeneral