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Female Breast
Female Breast


Breast ultrasound is the use of ultrasonic sound waves (sounds that cannot be heard by humans) to produce an image of breast tissue.

Alternative Names:

Ultrasonography of the breast

How the test is performed:

You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a medical gown during the test. During the test, you will lie on your back on the examining table.

A water-soluble gel is placed on the breast and a hand-held device (transducer) that directs the sound waves to the breast tissue. The transducer is moved over the surface of the breast to create a picture.

The test is then repeated for the other breast, if necessary.

How to prepare for the test:

Since you need to remove your clothing from the waist up, it may be helpful to wear a two-piece outfit. On the day of the test, do not use any lotions or powders on your breasts.

How the test will feel:

The number of people involved in the test will be limited to protect your privacy.

You will be asked to raise your arms above your head and turn to the left or right as needed.

There is no discomfort from the ultrasound device.

Why the test is performed:

Breast ultrasonography may be used with mammography or by itself.

Ultrasonography may be used to detect and classify breast lesions in the following types of women:

  • Women with dense breasts
  • Women with fibrocystic breast disease
  • Women with a lesion that cannot be well classified with mammography alone
  • Young women with masses
  • Pregnant women with masses
  • Women with silicon breast implants
  • Women who refuse exposure to x-rays (mammography)

Normal Values:

Normally, the breast tissue will appear uniform and without masses.

What abnormal results mean:

Distinctive patterns may indicate:

  • Cysts
  • Benign lesions
  • Malignant lesions (breast cancer)

What the risks are:

There are no risks associated with breast ultrasonography.

Review Date: 5/26/2008
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine; Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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