Breast ultrasound is a diagnostic procedure that may be recommended to investigate a breast lump. Ultrasound uses harmless high-frequency sound waves to show an image on a monitor screen in real-time. The aim is to determine whether there is a solid mass or a liquid cyst or sac.
Breast ultrasounds may be recommended for women under 35 instead of a mammogram.
The denser breasts in younger women make mammograms less effective as a diagnostic tool.
The ultrasound can also be used to pinpoint a location for a needle to be used to withdraw fluid or to take a biopsy tissue sample for laboratory testing.
If a cyst is found, and aspiration with a needle removes clear fluid and the mass disappears, no further treatment will usually be needed. What happens during a breast ultrasound test? No special preparation is needed for a breast ultrasound test. You will be asked to change into a hospital gown so you may consider wearing a two-piece outfit on the day of the test so that you only need to remove your top. You will lie on a padded examination table during the test. A small amount of water-soluble gel is applied to the skin over the area to be examined. The gel does not harm your skin or stain your clothes. A probe that looks like a little paddle is gently applied against the skin. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly several times. The ultrasound test takes about 10 minutes to complete. After the test, the gel will be wiped off your skin. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you once these are available.
© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.