A breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of breast tissue.
A breast ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the breast. These pictures (sometimes referred to as sonograms) can be used for screening or diagnostic purposes. Breast ultrasounds are safe, effective and do not involve radiation.
When Is a Breast Ultrasound Necessary?
A physician may order a breast ultrasound to take a closer look at a lump or another irregularity that is discovered during a clinical breast exam or routine mammogram. Breast lumps and tissue changes are common and typically aren’t cancerous, but imaging tests and other diagnostic techniques are necessary to rule out cancer and ensure good breast health.
A breast ultrasound may be combined with mammography to screen for breast cancer in women with particularly dense breast tissue. It’s also the diagnostic method of choice for many young women and expectant mothers, as ultrasound imaging does not use radiation.
What Does a Breast Ultrasound Entail?
A breast ultrasound is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. Here’s what it involves:
- The patient removes her clothing from the waist up and lies on an exam table.
- The patient raises her arm above her head on the same side of her body as the breast that is being examined.
- A specially trained ultrasound technician applies a warm, clear gel to the breast skin to reduce friction and help provide clear images.
- The technician gently glides a small device called a transducer over the breast. High-frequency sound waves are emitted from the transducer, which bounce off of internal breast structures and are sent to a computer that produces live images.
- Once the ultrasound is complete, the images are evaluated by a radiologist who will share the results with the patient and her care team.
What Can I Expect During a Breast Ultrasound?
Breast ultrasounds are simple and painless. On the day of the test, you should avoid wearing jewelry and opt for comfortable, loose clothing. You should be able to resume normal activities immediately following the procedure.
Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute offers a complete spectrum of breast health services to women in all stages of life. From screening measures like breast ultrasounds to advanced surgical care, TGH is committed to delivering world-class outcomes in everything we do.