Tests: Ultrasound

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The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: January 22, 2002

About Breast Ultrasound

This "Helpful Facts" sheet is designed to give you basic information on breast ultrasound. More detailed information can be provided by your doctor or nurse. If you have other questions, or would like additional information, please talk to your doctor or nurse.

What is breast ultrasound?
A breast ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the inside of your breasts. A breast ultrasound can determine if a breast lump is a hollow, fluid filled cyst or a solid mass.

When is a breast ultrasound performed?
A breast ultrasound may be done to evaluate abnormal areas seen on a mammogram. It may also be done to evaluate a breast lump or other breast changes that are not seen on a mammogram.

Are there any risks to having a breast ultrasound?

Is there any preparation before a breast ultrasound?
If possible, wear a two piece outfit the day of the ultrasound so you do not have to completely undress.

What happens during the breast ultrasound?
You will be asked to undress from the waist up. After lying down on a table, a clear gel is placed on your breast (this gel is removed easily with water after the test). A hand-held scanner, called a transducer, is placed on the skin by the radiologist. The transducer is moved around on the breast to get good images of the breast tissue. The sound wave images appear on a bedside monitor.

Will the breast ultrasound hurt?
The gel may be cool. You may experience minor discomfort as the transducer is moved around on the breast and slight pressure is applied.

How long will the breast ultrasound take?
The breast ultrasound takes about 15 minutes.

When do I learn the breast ultrasound results?
A breast ultrasound report will be sent to your doctor shortly after the test is completed and the radiologists will also discuss the results with you. In addition, your doctor will discuss the results with you.