Breast Imaging - Ultrasound
Ultrasound is a widely used technology which produces detailed images of the body.
Ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves (much higher than human ears can hear). These soundwaves are produced by the ultrasound probe (transducer), and the reflected sound waves (echoes) are detected by the probe and used to create an image which is displayed on the monitor of the ultrasound machine.
The sound energy used is absorbed by the body as heat but there is no noticeable warming effect. There are no known harmful effects.
Ultrasound can be used to gain information about an area of the breast which is of clinical concern, or to add further information to something detected on a mammogram.
Breast Ultrasound is often performed in conjunction with a mammogram. Wearing clothes that are easily slipped off from above the waist is a good idea. A simple shirt over a skirt or pants is preferable to a dress.
You may be asked to change into a gown, but you will be covered during your examination except for the area required to be examined. You may be asked to lie on a table for the ultrasound examination, usually with the affected side raised on a positioning sponge, and your arm resting on the pillow by your head. A layer of gel will be spread over the area to be examined to facilitate good contact as this helps to produce the best possible images. The ultrasound transducer is then placed over the area to be investigated.
Ultrasound examinations are not painful and are generally not invasive. However, if you are particularly tender, it may be a little uncomfortable.
Please bring any previous mammograms/ultrasound films with you on the day of your examination
Does it hurt?
Ultrasound is a very comfortable procedure. If you have tender breasts or a painful lump, there may be minimal discomfort.
How long with the procedure take?
Scanning may take up to 30mins. Often the radiologist will come to speak with you and view the screen. This is quite routine and should not cause alarm. Films are produced from the ultrasound machine and the images are interpreted by the radiologist. The results will then be forwarded to your doctor.
Can I have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram?
Generally the answer is no. A mammogram is still considered to be the gold standard as the best way to detect breast cancer. Some things to indicate presence of cancer are only seen on a mammogram. If you are under 35, pregnant or breast feeding, an ultrasound may be performed instead of a mammogram.