Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces images of the internal structures of the breast.
A Doppler ultrasound study is usually an integral part of this type of ultrasound examination. Doppler ultrasound is a special ultrasound technique that evaluates blood flow through a blood vessel. In breast ultrasound, Doppler is used to assess blood supply in breast lesions.
Ultrasound imaging uses a small probe, called a transducer, and gel placed directly on the skin. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe, through the gel, into the body. The probe collects the sounds that bounce back. A computer uses those sound waves to create the images for the exam.
Ultrasound is painless and non-invasive.
When would I get a Breast Ultrasound?
Your medical provider may recommend an ultrasound of the breast to:
- help diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a physician during a physical exam, such as a lump or bloody or spontaneous clear nipple discharge
- to characterize potential abnormalities seen on a mammogram or breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- determine if an abnormality is solid, which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor, or fluid-filled, such as a benign cyst, or both
- show additional features of the abnormal area.
What Will I Experience?
For this ultrasound exam, you will lie on your back on an exam table and you may need to raise your arm above your head.
An ultrasound technologist will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area that is tender or sensitive, you may feel some pressure or minor discomfort from the transducer.
Once the exam is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.
Typically, ultrasound imaging of the breast takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.