What is a Breast Ultrasound?

What is a Breast Ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the internal structures of the breast called a sonogram. Unlike an x-ray, an ultrasound does not use radiation. Ultrasound captures images in real time, showing structure and movement of internal organs as well as blood flow.

Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure, frequently used as a follow-up test after an abnormal finding on a mammogram. It is is also used in needle biopsies to help guide the procedure.

What is the Purpose of a Breast Ultrasound?

A doctor may request a breast ultrasound for a number of reasons, including:

  • assessment of nipple discharge
  • evaluation of mastitis
  • breast implant monitoring
  • examining breast lumps or abnormalities
  • verifying the results of other imaging tests, such as a mammogram

Why do I need a breast ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound is often used to investigate abnormalities found on a mammogram or during a physical exam and to rule out tumors or cysts.

While a breast ultrasound may be done in addition to a screening mammogram, it is rarely a substitute.  That said, there are certain cases in which a breast ultrasound may be used as a breast cancer screening tool. 

If a woman has very dense breasts an ultrasound may be used in addition to mammography – as mammograms may not be able to see through the tissue. 

Breast ultrasound is used in pregnant women as well because there is no radiation exposure, so it is safe for the fetus.

Overall, breast ultrasound is a safe and pain-free procedure, recommended by physicians for many different reasons.