A breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It is primarily used to diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities your doctor or you may have found during a physical exam,
A breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the breast tissue. It is primarily used to diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities your doctor or you may have found during a physical breast exam, mammogram or breast MRI. Ultrasound scans are safe, noninvasive and do not use ionizing radiation.
What is an ultrasound scan?
Ultrasound is a medical diagniostic imaging technique that uses sound waves to see what is happening inside your body. You can read more about ultrasound here.
Reasons for a Breast Scan
Ultrasound is usually used as the primary investigation for breast lumps.
Ultrasound does not rely on radiation such as the CT and xrays and therefore is the examination of choice for:
- pregnant or breast-feeding women
- women under the age of 25
- women with breast implants
Other reasons why a breast ultrasound may be performed include:
- to assess unusual nipple discharge
- to evaluate cases of mastitis or inflammation of the mammary tissues
- to evaluate breast implants
- to assess symptoms, such as breast pain, redness, and swelling
- to assess skin changes, such as discoloration
- to help monitor existing benign breast lumps
- to help read the results of other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or mammogram
Preparing for the test
- There is no specific preparataion for a breast examination
What to expect
Before the breast ultrasound scan, the sonographer will explain the examination procedure. You will be asked to lie on the examination couch and expose your breasts and you may be asked to raise your arm above your head. A small amount of ultrasound gel will be placed on your skin and a small ultrasound probe will be used to obtain images of the breast tissue. You might see red and blue colours on the screen but this is nothing to worry about and it is what is called colour Doppler ultrasound. Once the imaging is completed, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. The ultrasound gel does not stain or discolor clothing.
During and after the breast ultrasound examination our sonographer will explain the findings and an ultrasound report will be issued to take away with you.
In a scan that takes place in an NHS hospital the results will be sent to your GP or consultant.
During you private scan our sonographer will explain the findings and an ultrasound report will be issued to take away with you.
Waiting for the results of a health test can be stressful. It is easy to imagine the worst-case scenario, but it is important to note that most of the of breast lumps are benign.
Common causes of noncancerous breast lumps include:
- fibrocystic breasts
- intraductal papilloma
- adenofibroma or fibroadenoma
- fatty lumps made of bruised, dead, or injured mammary fat cells
- hyperactive breast glands
- hormone conditions, changes or therapies
- mastitis or breast infection
- certain medications
What are the benefits vs. risks of breast ultrasound scan?
- Most ultrasound scanning is noninvasive (no needles or injections).
- Occasionally, an ultrasound exam may be temporarily uncomfortable, but it should not be painful.
- Ultrasound is widely available, easy-to-use and less expensive than other imaging methods.
- Ultrasound imaging is extremely safe and does not use any ionizing radiation.
- Ultrasound scanning gives a clear picture of soft tissues that do not show up well on x-ray images.
- Ultrasound provides real-time imaging, making it a good tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures such as needle biopsies and fluid aspiration.
- Ultrasound imaging can help detect lesions in women with dense breasts.
- Ultrasound may help detect and classify a breast lesion that cannot be interpreted adequately through mammography alone.
- Using ultrasound, sonographers are able to determine that many areas of clinical concern are due to normal tissue (such as fat lobules) or benign cysts. For most women 30 years of age and older, a mammogram will be used together with ultrasound. For women under age 30, ultrasound alone is often sufficient to determine whether an area of concern needs a biopsy or not.
- For standard diagnostic ultrasound, there are no known harmful effects on humans.
- Interpretation of a breast ultrasound examination may lead to additional procedures such as follow-up ultrasound and/or aspiration or biopsy. Many of the areas thought to be of concern turn out to be non-cancerous.
What are the limitations of Ultrasound Scan Imaging of the Breast?
- Ultrasound is one of the tools used in breast imaging, but it does not replace annual mammography.
- Many cancers are not visible on ultrasound. Many calcifications seen on mammography cannot be seen on ultrasound. Some early breast cancers only show up as calcifications on mammography. MRI findings that are due to cancer are not always seen with ultrasound.
- A biopsy may be recommended to determine if a suspicious abnormality is a cancer or not.
- Most suspicious findings on an ultrasound scan that require biopsy are not cancers.
- Many facilities do not offer ultrasound screening, and the procedure may not be covered by some insurance plans.
BREAST ULTRASOUND SCANNING AT SONOWORLD LONDON
We offer breast ultrasound in addition to other ultrasound scans to provide the most accurate diagnostic service possible.
It is important to remember that most breast lumps turn out to be benign (non cancerous).
What is the cost of breast ultrasound?
The cost of the breast scan should not a reason to a quick diagnosis. At Sonoworld therefore we are trying to keep the cost not only of the breast but the cost of all ultrasound examinations as low as possible unlike some of our competitors.
View all our women private ultrasound scans.