A breast ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to generate images of the tissues inside the breast. The sound waves pass through the breast and bounce back, or echo, from various tissues to form a picture of the internal structures. It is not invasive and involves no radiation or X-rays. The breast ultrasound can show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall, which can be hard to study with a mammogram.
Why are breast ultrasounds needed?
- To check a lump felt by a doctor during a clinical exam or by a patient on a breast self exam, after a mammogram is performed.
- To characterize abnormalities seen on a screening or diagnostic mammogram.
- To see whether a breast mass is solid or a fluid-filled cyst. Solid masses may require follow-up imaging or biopsy.
- To look for a cause of spontaneous nipple discharge.
- To look at the breast tissue in symptomatic women under age 30.
- To supplement screening mammography in selected patients with dense breast tissue.
- In women who are pregnant or should not to be exposed to x-rays.