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What is a Breast ultrasound?

A breast ultrasound or ultrasonography is a diagnostic imaging procedure where high-frequency sound waves create images of your breast tissues. The images acquired from the procedure are called a sonogram. It is often suggested by a healthcare professional to examine any abnormalities in the breast tissues that are identified during the clinical breast examination or mammogram results. Read on to know more about breast ultrasound in detail.

Breast ultrasound – An Overview

A breast ultrasound is a safe and non-invasive procedure that provides an intricate image of dense breast tissues. It is especially used to detect the presence of cancer cells, which is typically missed by a mammogram test.

The test, performed free of harmful types of potential radiation, can cover all areas of the breast and the region near the chest wall. The radiologist with a high degree of specialization at the centre will review your scan images and find the onset of cancer as early as possible.

Types of ultrasound

While breast ultrasound is an excellent diagnostic tool, research is still under study to prove whether it has the potential to combine with Mammography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Here are the types of breast ultrasounds.

Handheld screening breast ultrasound

This type of test requires the experience and skills of the technologist or radiologist who performs the procedure. It is because they are in charge of deciding whether the patient has abnormalities in the breast tissues while scanning. They also have to make certain adjustments in the equipment settings to optimize the images. It will take an average period of 15 minutes to complete.

Automated breast ultrasound

This advanced type of ultrasound is performed using a transducer to scan the whole breast area. It facilitates three-dimensional volumetric imaging involving transverse, coronal and sagittal planes for clear interpretation. Hundreds of images collected will be reconstructed to analyze the result.

Who is the ideal candidate for a breast ultrasound?

Even though breast ultrasound is an effective diagnostic test, it is not for everyone. It aligns with mammograms to detect the presence of cancer cells and is suitable for certain women with dense breast tissues. Undergoing mammogram scans will allow them to determine if they have dense breasts. You will be suggested to have a breast ultrasound if you,

  • Have examined with dense breast tissues
  • Shows no signs or symptoms of breast cancer
  • Noticed a change in your breast that a mammogram cannot detect
  • Possess the average risk factors for cancer in lifestyle
  • Are pregnant and have to steer away from radiation used in normal mammogram procedures
  • Are allergic to the dye utilized in CEM

How does breast ultrasound work?

In the ultrasound process, sound waves are organized to reflect the visual image of the dense interior tissues of the breast. When the unit passes the sound waves through your skin and tissues, it will bounce back like an echo. Now, the computer will make a distinct electronic picture of your breast tissues.

The process is painless and gives you valuable data about the nature of the tissues, the presence of lesions and the requirement of biopsy/ or other intervention tests if necessary. It also helps you distinguish the cyst formation based on its size, shape, location and distinct abnormalities.

Why is a breast ultrasound done?

Simply put, a breast ultrasound is performed to add more critical information to the result of your diagnostic tests. It will even provide data that is not collected by other tests. It may be done due to one or more of the following reasons.

  • Identify the root cause of symptoms like pain, swelling or redness in the breast.
  • Examine the breast lump through self-examination or professional clinical examination.
  • Confirm the abnormal results obtained from the mammogram/
  • Learn the cause of clear or bloody discharge from the nipples.
  • Distinguish between the cyst and solid mass (cancerous or non-cancerous tissues)
  • Assist the surgeon by guiding a needle to perform a breast biopsy

How to prepare for the breast ultrasound?

There is no special instruction to prepare for the breast ultrasound examination. You can take any medication and perform daily activities. However, your healthcare professional might suggest you wear some comfortable clothes as you must remove your upper clothing to undergo the procedure.

What is the procedure of breast ultrasound?

You will be instructed to lie on the couch for the ultrasound test. The technician will apply a lubricating gel over the breast regions. The gel allows the probe to slide smoothly over the skin to acquire detailed images on the screen. They will also examine the axilla (armpits) for lymph nodes. You may be asked to move position a few times, moving your arm up and down.

What to expect during the breast ultrasound test?

The gel applied to the breast will make you feel cold. You may feel a light pressure when the transducer device passes over the breasts, and there will be no pain. However, you might feel a little discomfort if your breast tissues are tender due to fibrocystic breast changes, the onset of infection or the formation of an abscess.

How long will the breast ultrasound test take?

A breast ultrasound procedure typically takes 15 to 30 minutes from the preparation phase to acquiring the results. The period might extend if the technician has also planned to perform a biopsy. Upon completion, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist examines the images obtained from the scan. It will help them decide whether to do more ultrasound scans of certain areas of your breast.

What are the risks involved in ultrasound?

Breast ultrasound has no complications or risks since the patients will not be exposed to radiation waves. The procedure is even safe for women who are pregnant or for mothers who are breastfeeding.

What will be the results of the breast ultrasound?

The radiologist will discuss the test results with you after the procedure. The results will be sent to your preferred healthcare professional in one or two days. The result will be either one of the following.

Normal – The in-depth tissues will look similar and healthy in both breasts.

Abnormal – The test will detect the presence of a cyst (A fluid-filled sac) in the breast tissues. The cyst will look like a lump that is in even shape and lacks floating particles. It will not require more follow-up tests. When the cyst has particles, it is a chronic condition that might need more tests. 

You will be instructed to undergo a biopsy or other related tests based on the type of lump, age and other medical conditions. It includes,

  • Removal of a breast lump (excisional breast biopsy)
  • Open surgical biopsy of breast tissues
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy (performed using a mammogram-like machine)
  • Ultrasound-assisted breast biopsy

Final words

Cancer is a life-threatening condition which should be detected using a breast ultrasound in its early stage. The comprehensive evaluation and interpretation will help you achieve positive outcomes. Breast ultrasound is an effective procedure to detect any unusual ailments in your breast tissue, which is difficult to confirm with a mammogram.
At CDN care, we strive to offer advanced medical care through the latest technologies for our patins. We have a team of highly qualified professional technicians who carefully process the diagnostic test to create high-resolution ultrasound images and ensure to guide you in every step of your healthcare journey.

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