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Women's Health

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Breast Ultrasound


How To Prepare

Wear a two-piece outfit so that it is easy to undress above the waist.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A breast ultrasound is usually done by a specially trained technologist.

You will be asked to undress above the waist. You will be given a gown to drape around your shoulders. Remove all jewelry from around your neck.

Gel will be put on your breast so the transducer can pick up the sound waves as it is moved back and forth over the breast. A picture of the breast tissue can be seen on a TV screen.

A breast ultrasound test usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes. More time may be needed if a breast exam will be done or if a biopsy is also planned. You may be asked to wait until a radiologist has reviewed the pictures. The radiologist may want to do more ultrasound views of some areas of your breast.

How It Feels

The gel may feel cold when it is put on your breast. You will feel light pressure from the transducer as it passes over your breast, but you should feel no discomfort unless your breast is tender because of fibrocystic breast changes, an abscess, or another infection. You will not hear the sound waves. A special Doppler ultrasound may be used to check the blood flow to the breast; you can hear the sound waves from this type of ultrasound.


There are no known risks in having a breast ultrasound test.


A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to make of picture of the tissues inside of the breast.

The radiologist may discuss the results of the ultrasound with you right after the test. Complete results are usually available to your doctor in 1 to 2 days.

Breast ultrasound
The breast tissue looks normal. If the test is done on both breasts, the tissue looks similar.
A fluid-filled sac (cyst) is present. A fluid-filled lump that is evenly shaped and has no particles floating in it is likely to be a simple cyst. This may not need more tests. See an ultrasound image of a simple breast cystcamera.gif.
A cyst is found that has particles in it (a complex cyst). This may need more tests.
A lump is found that looks solid. Depending on the lump, your age, and other medical factors, you may need a biopsy or follow-up with other tests.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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