Ultrasound is an imaging modality that uses sound waves, a transducer, and a computer to create images of the inside of the body. It is also known as Sonography. It is a non-invasive and painless test that does not use any radiation or X-rays. Doctors use a bilateral Ultrasound exam of the breasts to visualize the inside of both of your breasts to diagnose a condition that is causing the symptoms.
Why and when do you need this test?
Your doctor may advise this test if you have signs and symptoms of breast disease or some abnormal results of other medical tests like mammography that may need further evaluation.
Some of the indications for an ultrasound of the breasts include the following;
- Pain in the breasts
- Breast fullness
- Nipple discharge
- Bleeding from the nipple
- Lumps in the breast
- Changed appearance of the breasts, skin, or the nipple
- Suspicious lesion on mammography
- To take the biopsy of the lesion guided by ultrasound
- When you cannot have a mammography exam due to being pregnant, under 25 years of age, or having dense breast tissue.
Do you need to prepare for the test?
It is a simple test that may not need any special preparation.
- You may need to wear loose, easy clothing as you will need to expose your breasts, or you may be given a gown by the hospital to change into.
- You would be asked to remove any piece of jewelry
What can you expect?
- You will be asked to lie down on the bed on your back or side.
- You may be asked to change positions during the exam and to raise your arms.
- The radiologist or the sonographer would put some gel on your breasts.
- The doctor will then put a transducer probe which looks like a microphone over the gel.
- The transducer will transmit sound waves to the body and back from the body to the computer to form images.
- No pain is felt during the procedure, or you may feel pain only if the area is tender.
- After the exam, you may return to daily activities normally.
- The procedure lasts for about 30 minutes but may take longer.
Are there any risks to this test?
It is a non-invasive, painless test that usually has no risks.
What do the test results mean?
The radiologist or sonographer will send a signed report to your doctor. Your doctor would be able to tell you if the report shows any abnormality that may be causing your symptoms. Ultrasound may tell if a mass is present in the breast and whether it is fluid-filled or solid. The masses that are detected may be benign (mostly) or cancerous. Some special ultrasounds called the Doppler ultrasound can also detect the movement of the blood in the breast or the mass, particularly Cancerous masses.
The abnormal results may include;
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Intraductal papilloma
- Breast fat necrosis,
- Breast cancer
- Breast abscess
- Breast cysts
Other related tests may include:
- MRI of the breasts