Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast. Sound waves are used to examine breast tissue. An ultrasound technologist who is specially trained in breast imaging will apply a warm gel to the skin, which allows the sound waves to be transmitted and received from inside the body. The images are recorded digitally. No radiation is utilized to produce the images.
How does the procedure work?
Ultrasound imaging measures echo waves that are produced by sound waves striking an object and bouncing backward. By measuring these echo waves, it is possible to determine the object’s size, shape, consistency (whether the object is solid, filled with fluid, or both) and uniformity.
During an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and records the echoing waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs a stream of high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off of internal organs, fluids, and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound’s pitch and direction. These waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor.
How is the procedure performed?
You will lie on your back with your arm raised above your head on the examining table.
A clear gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help the transducer make contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. The sonographer (ultrasound technologist) then presses the transducer firmly against the skin and sweeps it back and forth over the area of interest.
When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to wait while a radiologist reviews the ultrasound images.
This ultrasound examination takes about 30 minutes. It is painless and causes no side effects.
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and to wear a gown during the procedure.
Getting Your Results
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your referring physician, who will share the results with you. In some cases, the radiologist may discuss preliminary results with you at the conclusion of your examination.