Ultrasound (also called sonography) is an imaging technique in which high-frequency sound waves that cannot be heard by humans are bounced off tissues and internal organs. Their echoes produce a picture called a sonogram.
Ultrasound imaging of the breast is used to distinguish between solid tumors and fluid-filled cysts. It is also used to characterize the nature of solid masses. Many times ultrasound is used following diagnostic mammography for further information. Ultrasound can also be used to evaluate lumps that are hard to see on a mammogram. Sometimes ultrasound is used as part of other diagnostic procedures, such as needle biopsy or aspiration.
Ultrasound is not a substitute for routine breast cancer screening with mammography because it does not consistently detect certain early signs of cancer such as microcalcifications. Microcalcifications are tiny deposits of calcium in the breast that cannon be felt but can be seen on a conventional mammogram. A cluster of microcalcifications may indicate that cancer is present.
Your Preparation for an Ultrasound:
- Please wear a 2-piece outfit with a removable top. We will provide you a cover-up to wear during your procedure.
- Wear little or no body powder or perfume to your appointment. Deodorant is fine in moderation.
- Bring with you any previous images of your breasts that were done anywhere but here in the last 3-5 years.
How Much Time to Allow for your Visit: 45 minutes to an hour.
What to Expect During an Ultrasound:
During an ultrasound examination, the clinician spreads a thin coating of lubricating jelly over the area to be imaged to improve conduction of the sound waves. A hand-held device called a transducer directs the sound waves through the skin toward specific tissues. As the sound waves are reflected back from the tissues within the breast, the patterns formed by the waves create a two-dimensional image of the breast on a computer which is interpreted by our board-certified radiologists.
What to Expect After an Ultrasound:
- Generally your results are discussed with you at the time of your exam.
- A formal report will be faxed to your physician within a few days of your appointment and a copy will be mailed to you.