ABOUT YOUR
BREAST ULTRASOUND EXAMINATION

 

AN ULTRASOUND SCAN OF THE BREAST

What is an ultrasound scan of the breast?

An ultrasound scan uses a small hand-held probe which when pressed against the skin surface both generates sound waves and detects any echoes reflected back off the surfaces and tissue boundaries of the inside of the breast. The probe can be moved over the skin to view the breast from different angles. The images are displayed on a monitor and recorded digitally for subsequent study.

Is ultrasound safe?

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine states that so far no harmful effects have been demonstrated with clinical use of ultrasound. Although the possibility exists that biological effects may be identified in the future, current information indicates that the benefits to patients far outweigh any potential risks.

Why do I need a breast ultrasound examination?

Ultrasound examination of the breast adds to the information obtained by clinical examination and mammography (X ray examination of the breast). The findings from breast ultrasound are correlated with findings from clinical examination, mammography and results from pathological examination. It is effective in all age groups and especially useful in younger patients and patients who have breast implants. Breast ultrasound can identify cysts (fluid filled sac), tumours, abscesses, lymph nodes.  Needle test (fine needle aspiration), draining of a cyst or an abscess, a tissue sample (biopsy) of a suspicious area is best performed using ultrasound guidance and this increases the accuracy of the test

What does the ultrasound scan entail?

Once you are lying on the couch, a gel will be applied to your skin over the area of the breast to be scanned. This gel allows the probe to slide easily over the skin and helps to produce clear images. The room may be darkened during the examination. The examination is not painful. Needle tests performed with ultrasound guidance can be uncomfortable. The doctor may feel the area while performing the examination. Records of selected images will be made digitally and stored.The actual scan takes around 5–10 minutes.

What are the limitations of breast ultrasound?

Some of the suspicious areas seen on the mammography may not be seen on ultrasound examination. Chalk like deposits which are well seen on mammography may not be seen on ultrasound. If that is the case needle tests or biopsies need to be done by other means.

After the exam, you can drive home safely and eat and drink normally.