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Breast ultrasound

Contents of this page:


Female Breast
Female Breast

Alternative Names    Return to top

Ultrasonography of the breast

Definition    Return to top

Breast ultrasound is the use of ultrasonic sound waves (sounds that cannot be heard by humans) to produce an image of breast tissue.

How the Test is Performed    Return to top

You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a medical gown during the test. During the test, you will lie on your back on the examining table.

A water-soluble gel is placed on the breast and a hand-held device (transducer) that directs the sound waves to the breast tissue. The transducer is moved over the surface of the breast to create a picture.

The test is then repeated for the other breast, if necessary.

How to Prepare for the Test    Return to top

Since you need to remove your clothing from the waist up, it may be helpful to wear a two-piece outfit. On the day of the test, do not use any lotions or powders on your breasts.

How the Test Will Feel    Return to top

The number of people involved in the test will be limited to protect your privacy.

You will be asked to raise your arms above your head and turn to the left or right as needed.

There is no discomfort from the ultrasound device.

Why the Test is Performed    Return to top

Breast ultrasonography may be used with mammography or by itself.

Ultrasonography may be used to detect and classify breast lesions in the following types of women:

Normal Results    Return to top

Normally, the breast tissue will appear uniform and without masses.

What Abnormal Results Mean    Return to top

Distinctive patterns may indicate:

Risks    Return to top

There are no risks associated with breast ultrasonography.

Update Date: 5/26/2008

Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine; Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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