What is Breast Ultrasound?
Breast ultrasonography is the use of penetrating sound waves that bounce back to a computer, producing a real-time image on a monitor that your doctor can use to help diagnose breast abnormalities. The sound waves are inaudible and do not affect the tissue or cause damage. Liquid shows up differently than solid mass during an ultrasound, which is important information for your radiologist, as liquid filled cysts are usually not cancerous, whereas a solid mass lump may sometimes be cancerous. The end result is a picture called a sonogram and more data for your doctor to use during the diagnostic process.
When is Breast Ultrasound Used?
After a breast exam or a mammogram, when a suspicious area has been identified, your doctor may use an ultrasound machine to get a better idea of what is going on inside the breast tissue, in particular whether a cyst is solid or liquid, and how blood is flowing through the region. Breast sonography is especially useful for viewing the structure of breast lumps that are large enough to be felt by a breast self-exam.
What can I expect during the exam?
During the exam, the physician may apply ultrasound gel to the skin over the area in question. Then a transducer wand is used gently on the breast and transmits images to the computer, which the physician views over the monitor. The exam is relatively quick and painless.
Is the exam safe?
Yes. Ultrasound is non-invasive and does not use radiation such as that used in X-rays.