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Breast Ultrasound: Purpose, Preparation, Process, Risk and Outcomes

If you’re wondering what a breast ultrasound involves and how to prepare for one or the potential outcomes of the procedure, we got you covered. We will take an in-depth look at these important questions. This way, when it comes time for your appointment, you feel as informed and prepared as possible. From understanding what a breast ultrasound is and its purpose. Also, the process and risks involved, right up to the outcomes of your scan – we’ve got all bases covered.

What Are Breast Ultrasounds?


Breast ultrasounds are a noninvasive imaging technique used to examine breast tissue. It is also used to look for any abnormalities or suspicious growths. They use high-frequency sound waves to create a detailed image of the inside of the breast. Healthcare professionals can use it to detect potential signs of breast cancer. This breast imaging method is also used to assess the effects of breast cancer treatment. Also, to determine whether breast lumps are benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Purpose of a Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, which are transmitted through the breast. The waves then reflect off various structures in the breast, like a malignant tumour or a cyst, and create an ultrasound image. It allows healthcare professionals to clearly see what is going on inside the entire breast, from top to bottom. An ultrasound scan is also used to measure the size of a lump or an area of abnormality within the breast. Also, breast ultrasound is used for diagnosing breast pain, nipple discharge and inflammation.

Preparation for a Breast Ultrasound

Like any medical procedure, there are certain steps you should take to prepare for a breast ultrasound. Here are some tips to help ensure a smooth and successful experience:

  • Make sure to inform your doctor about any medical conditions you have, as well as any medications you are taking.

  • Avoid wearing body lotion, deodorant, or perfume on the day of the exam.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that can be easily removed from the waist up.

  • Depending on the type of ultrasound you have, it may also be necessary to drink several glasses of water before your procedure. It will help you fill your bladder with enough liquid for better image quality.

  • You will likely not need any additional preparation for most types of breast ultrasounds. This way, check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about the procedure.

Process of a Breast Ultrasound

Once the preparation is done, you’ll be taken to an ultrasound room, where a radiologist or technician will perform the exam. Here are the steps you will take:

  • You’ll lie down on a table and wear a hospital gown.

  • You will remove any jewellery or clothing above the breast area.

  • The technician will spread some water-based gel over your breast to help the transducer scan more easily.

  • The technician places the transducer, which is a small hand-held device that looks like a microphone, onto your breast.

  • The transducer will send out sound waves and detect them when they bounce back to create images of the inside of your breast on the computer monitor.

  • The radiologist or technician will check if there are any abnormalities in the images and take more views if necessary and make a report.

  • The ultrasound will finish, and the gel will be wiped off your breast.

  • You can then get dressed and go back to your doctor’s office or home.

  • The results of the breast ultrasound will be sent to your doctor so he or she can figure out what they mean. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and recommend any further testing or treatments if necessary.

The whole process usually takes around 30 minutes, and you should be able to go back home after the exam. Most women don’t experience any pain or discomfort during a screening breast ultrasound.

Risks Involved in a Breast Ultrasound

A breast ultrasound is a generally safe procedure, and there are no known risks associated with this type of imaging. However, it is important to note that the technician may require additional images to get a complete picture of your breast tissue. It means that you may be exposed to more radiation than usual during the exam, which could potentially increase your risk of breast cancer. It is important to discuss this with the technician before undergoing a breast ultrasound.

The most common complication that may occur during breast ultrasounds is breast pain. It is usually caused by the pressure that the technician places on your breast when they are conducting the exam. If this happens, you should let them know right away so that they can reduce the pressure. Also, make sure that the area remains comfortable throughout the procedure.

Additionally, there is a small chance that breast ultrasound technicians may miss a breast symptom. This could potentially lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. This way, it is important to discuss any breast symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor prior to the exam.

    Outcomes of a Breast Ultrasound

    Once a breast ultrasound has been performed, the radiologist will review the ultrasound images. It also provides an overall impression of the results. Typically, this could include:

    • Normal: no abnormality was seen on the breast ultrasound.

    • Suspicious Abnormality: an area of concern was seen, but further evaluation or testing is needed to determine if there is cancer. 

    • Benign Process: the radiologist identified a noncancerous finding such as a cyst or fibroadenoma.

    • Malignant Process: The radiologist saw something that didn’t look right. It’s likely cancer, so he or she would recommend more tests or a biopsy.

    Sometimes a breast ultrasound can provide information that helps to guide the use of sound waves to produce images of the breast. For example, an ultrasound-guided core biopsy would use sound waves to create an acoustic window for the radiologist or surgeon to perform a needle biopsy of a suspicious area seen in an imaging study. This type of procedure is often used when there is not enough clinical information or history available to make a definitive diagnosis from a mammogram and ultrasound alone.

    The Benefits of Breast Ultrasound

    More and more women are turning to breast ultrasounds as a way of monitoring their health and catching any potential problems early. It is a good idea to get regular breast ultrasounds because they can find problems that a physical exam might miss. Here are some of the other benefits of breast ultrasound:

    Early Detection of Breast Cancer

    Early detection of breast cancer is hugely important, and automated breast ultrasound is a great tool to help aid in this. Using high-frequency sound waves, automated breast ultrasound creates a picture of what’s happening inside the breast. It helps to check any abnormalities to assist in determining whether cancer is present. While is an excellent way to help identify cancers before they become visible with mammography. The earlier we can detect breast cancer, and the earlier treatment can begin, giving us the best chance for long-term survival.

    No Radiation Exposure

    Breast ultrasound is a great option for women looking to avoid radiation exposure with breast cancer screening. Mammography is the most convenient method of breast cancer screening. It requires some ionising radiation that, while the risk of developing cancer from this radiation is very low, can be concerning to some. It is why an ultrasound screening could be invaluable since it eliminates radiation exposure completely. Ultrasound has no risks associated with it, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to take any chances when it comes to their health.

    Safe for Women with Breast Implants

    If you’re someone who’s had breast implants, there’s good news when it comes to detecting abnormalities in the breast. You can still safely undergo a breast ultrasound with your implants. However, mammography isn’t recommended for those with breast implants, as they can interfere with the images. Also, an ultrasound is a safe choice that is just as accurate and detailed without the same drawbacks, so if you have implants and are looking for peace of mind or just regular check-ups. This way, you will know that even though it may feel out of reach, getting screened for abnormalities is still very much within reach.

    It can Be Used During Pregnancy

    This is a great tool for expectant mothers, as it is a thorough and safe way to detect any possible issues with the breasts during pregnancy. It’s an excellent way to understand the health of their breast tissue and discover any cysts or tumours present before delivery. So, women who are pregnant can use breast ultrasounds to help them feel confident and informed in their healthcare decisions.

    Final Thoughts


    Breast ultrasounds offer a safe and reliable way to detect any abnormalities in the breasts while avoiding radiation exposure. Whether you’re looking for peace of mind or have been recommended to have one done, breast ultrasounds can give you the answers you need and help determine what, if any, further steps need to be taken. So consider getting a breast ultrasound to ensure that you are taking all the necessary steps to keep yourself and your breasts healthy.