What is Breast Ultrasound?
Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology in breast ultrasound and breast biopsies.
What are Some Common Uses of the Procedure?
- Determining the nature of a breast abnormality
The primary use of breast ultrasound is to help diagnose breast abnormalities detected by a physician during a physical exam or to characterize potential abnormalities seen on mammography.
Ultrasound imaging can help to determine if an abnormality is solid (which may be a non-cancerous lump of tissue or a cancerous tumor) or fluid-filled (such as a benign cyst). Ultrasound can also help show additional features of the abnormal area.
- Supplemental breast cancer screening
Ultrasound is being investigated for use as a screening tool for women who:
- have dense breasts, meaning there is a lot of breast tissue and less fat
- have silicone breast implants and very little tissue can be included on the mammogram
- are pregnant or should not to be exposed to x-rays
- are at high risk for breast cancer based on family history
- Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy
When an ultrasound examination cannot characterize the nature of a breast abnormality, a physician may choose to perform an ultrasound-guided biopsy. Because ultrasound provides real-time images, it is often used to guide biopsy procedures.
A breast biopsy involves removing some cells, either surgically or in a less invasive procedure involving a needle, from the suspicious area in the breast and examining them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis.
How is Breast Ultrasound Performed?
You will be asked to 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 secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin. The ultrasound technologist then presses the transducer firmly against the skin and sweeps it back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.
This ultrasound examination is usually completed within 30 minutes.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and West Hollywood.