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Breast ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at your breasts. It can help your health care provider find breast problems. It also lets your provider see how well blood is flowing to areas in your breasts. This test is often used along with mammography.
The health care provider uses a device called a transducer to make the images of your breasts. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off your breast tissue. The sound waves are too high-pitched for you to hear. The transducer then picks up the bounced sound waves. These are made into pictures of your breasts.
Your provider can add another device called a Doppler probe to the transducer. This probe lets your provider hear the sound waves the transducer sends out. He or she can hear how fast blood is flowing through a blood vessel and in which direction it is flowing. No sound or a faint sound may mean that you have a blockage in the flow.
Ultrasound is safe to have during pregnancy because it does not use radiation. It is also safe for people who are allergic to contrast dye because it does not use dye.
A breast ultrasound is most often done to find out if a problem found by a mammogram is a cyst filled with fluid or a solid tumor. You may also have this test to find masses if you have breast tissue too dense for mammography.
Breast ultrasound is not usually done to screen for breast cancer. This is because it may miss some early signs of cancer. Some early signs are tiny calcium deposits (microcalcifications).
Ultrasound may be used if you:
Your health care provider may also use ultrasound to help guide a needle during a breast biopsy or to remove fluid from a cyst (cyst aspiration).
Your provider may have other reasons to recommend a breast ultrasound.
A breast ultrasound has no risk from radiation. It poses no risk to pregnant women.
Breast ultrasound may miss small lumps or solid tumors that are commonly found with mammography. Being obese or having very large breasts may make the ultrasound less accurate.
You may have risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to talk with your provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.
You may have a breast ultrasound as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your health care provider's practices.
Generally, breast ultrasound follows this process:
You do not need any special care after a breast ultrasound. Your health care provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.