A breast ultrasound is often performed following a mammogram.
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Breast ultrasound is an imaging modality that uses high-frequency sound waves to take internal pictures of breast tissue. The test provides detailed information on abnormalities within the breast. The detailed images of breast tissue can reveal if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass that needs additional testing.
Breast ultrasounds are usually not used on their own to screen for breast cancer. They are often recommended as a follow-up test on suspicious areas seen during mammograms.
A doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound for the following reasons:
Prior to the procedure, the patient should not apply any lotion or powder to the skin or wear deodorant on the day of her ultrasound as these substances are known to interfere with getting clear images from the test.
Immediately before the procedure starts, the patient undresses from the waist up and changes into a gown that opens in the front.
During the procedure, the patient will lie on a table, usually in an angled position to optimize positioning for the imager. The radiologist applies clear, water-based gel to a wand, called a transducer, which is moved over the skin on and around the patient’s breast.
The radiologist will be able to see the ultrasound images on a screen during the test whereby representative images are saved to share with the doctor.
After the procedure is complete, the radiologist interprets the images and provides a report. If any additional tests are needed or follow-up is recommended, that information is will be shared with you on the day of the exam.
Since breast ultrasound uses sound waves, and not radiation to produce images, there are no known risks of the ultrasound modality.