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Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to examine the breasts.

How the Test is Performed

You will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will be given a gown to wear.

During the test, you will lie on your back on an examining table.

The doctor or specially trained sonographer will place a gel on the breast skin. A hand-held device, called a transducer, is moved over the breast area.

The device sends sounds waves to the breast tissue. The sound waves create a picture that can be seen on a computer screen.

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 test, do not use any lotion or powder on your breasts.

The test usually does not cause any discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed?

Breast ultrasound is usually ordered when more information is needed after other tests are done.

Your health provider may order this test if you have:
• A breast lump during a breast exam
• An abnormal mammogram
• Clear or bloody nipple discharge

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.

Normal Results

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 ultrasound may also be used to identify masses in women whose breast tissue is too dense to be measured accurately by mammography. Breast ultrasound is generally not used as a screening tool for breast cancer detection because it does not detect some early signs of cancer such as microcalcifications, which are tiny calcium deposits.

Breast ultrasound may miss small lumps or solid tumors that are commonly detected by mammography.