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Published: 28/06/2022

Understanding Breast Ultrasound: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Breast Ultrasound?

Breast ultrasound is a medical imaging technique that employs high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of breast tissue. It is primarily used to diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities detected during a physical breast exam, mammogram, or breast MRI. Ultrasound scans are safe, non-invasive, and do not use ionizing radiation.

Why Choose Ultrasound for Breast Imaging?

Breast ultrasound is often the preferred diagnostic tool for various reasons:

  • Safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Suitable for women under 25 years old
  • Appropriate for women with breast implants

Indications for a Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasounds may be performed for several reasons, including:

  • Evaluating breast lumps
  • Assessing unusual nipple discharge
  • Investigating mastitis or inflammation of mammary tissues
  • Evaluating breast implants
  • Assessing symptoms like breast pain, redness, and swelling
  • Examining skin changes, such as discoloration
  • Monitoring existing benign breast lumps
  • Interpreting results of other imaging tests, like MRI or mammograms

Preparing for a Breast Ultrasound

There is no specific preparation required for a breast ultrasound.

What to Expect During the Exam

During the breast ultrasound, the sonographer will:

  1. Explain the examination procedure
  2. Ask you to lie on the examination table and expose your breasts
  3. Apply ultrasound gel on your skin
  4. Use an ultrasound probe to obtain images of the breast tissue.

You may see red and blue colors on the screen, which represent the color Doppler ultrasound. After the imaging is completed, the sonographer will wipe off the ultrasound gel. This gel does not stain or discolor clothing.

Throughout the examination, the sonographer will explain their findings, and you will receive an ultrasound report to take with you.

Interpreting the Results

In an NHS hospital, results are sent to your GP or consultant. During a private scan, the sonographer will explain the findings, and you'll receive an ultrasound report to take with you.

It is essential to remember that most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). Common causes of noncancerous breast lumps include:

  • Cysts
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Intraductal papilloma
  • Adenofibroma or fibroadenoma
  • Fatty lumps from bruised, dead, or injured mammary fat cells
  • Hyperactive breast glands
  • Hormone conditions, changes, or therapies
  • Mastitis or breast infection
  • Certain medications

Benefits vs. Risks of Breast Ultrasound


  • Noninvasive, with no needles or injections
  • Widely available, easy to use, and less expensive than other methods
  • Extremely safe and does not use ionizing radiation
  • Provides clear images of soft tissues
  • Real-time imaging allows for guidance during minimally invasive procedures
  • Detects lesions in women with dense breasts
  • Helps determine whether a breast lesion requires further investigation or biopsy
  • Useful in combination with mammograms for women aged 30 and older, while for women under 30, it is often sufficient on its own


  • No known harmful effects on humans from standard diagnostic ultrasound
  • Interpretation of breast ultrasound may lead to additional procedures, such as follow-up ultrasounds or biopsies, even though many areas of concern turn out to be non-cancerous

Limitations of Breast Ultrasound

  • Ultrasound does not replace annual mammography
  • Many cancers and calcifications visible on mammograms may not be detected by ultrasound
  • Some early breast cancers are only visible as calcifications on mammography
  • MRI findings related to cancer may not always be visible on ultrasound
  • A biopsy may be necessary to determine if a suspicious abnormality is cancerous
  • Most suspicious findings on ultrasound requiring biopsy turn out to be non-cancerous
  • Many facilities do not offer ultrasound screening, and some insurance plans may not cover the procedure

Breast Ultrasound Scanning at Sonoworld London

Sonoworld London provides breast ultrasound and other ultrasound scans to deliver accurate diagnostic services. It is important to remember that most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous).

Cost of a Breast Ultrasound

Sonoworld aims to keep the cost of breast ultrasounds and other ultrasound examinations as low as possible, unlike some competitors. Timely diagnosis should not be hindered by financial constraints.

Choosing a Breast Ultrasound Provider

When selecting a provider for breast ultrasound, consider the following factors:

  • Experience and qualifications of the sonographers
  • Reputation of the facility
  • Availability of appointments
  • Insurance coverage, if applicable
  • Transparency of pricing and fees
  • Quality of the equipment used
  • Post-exam support and follow-up care

Additional Imaging Techniques

Breast ultrasound is just one of several imaging methods available for evaluating breast health. Other techniques include:

  • Mammography: A low-dose X-ray of the breast tissue, considered the gold standard for breast cancer screening
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed images of breast tissue
  • Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography): A newer form of mammography that takes multiple images of the breast from different angles, offering improved detection rates

Each imaging technique has its strengths and limitations. Your healthcare provider will recommend the most suitable method based on your age, risk factors, and any existing breast concerns.


Breast ultrasound is a valuable diagnostic tool for assessing breast health and detecting abnormalities. It is particularly useful for certain populations, such as pregnant women, women under 25, and women with breast implants. While breast ultrasound has its limitations, it can provide essential information when used in conjunction with other imaging techniques. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your breast health needs.


  1. American Cancer Society. (2021). Breast Ultrasound. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-ultrasound.html
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Breast Ultrasound. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-ultrasound/about/pac-20385237
  3. National Health Service. (2021). Breast Ultrasound Scan. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-ultrasound-scan/
  4. RadiologyInfo.org. (2021). Ultrasound - Breast. Retrieved from https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastus
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). Breast Ultrasound. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003376.htm
Ultrasound clinic london registered and regulated by CQC
Ultrasound London Clinic Address:
29 Weymouth Street, Marylebone, London, W1G 7DB
Phone: 020 3633 4902 Email: info@sonoworld.co.uk or sonoworlduk@gmail.com
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