Breast imaging

Breast ultrasound

UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, offers breast ultrasound as a diagnostic test to evaluate a possible concern, such as a lump found during a physical exam or an area seen on a screening mammogram. It also is used to follow up on findings seen on a previous ultrasound to confirm the finding has not changed.

Why breast ultrasound?

When a possible abnormality in the breast is discovered by physical examination or a mammogram, it is very important to determine whether the abnormality is normal tissue, cystic (fluid-filled) or solid (cellular tissue). Mammography alone often is unable to tell the difference between a cyst and a solid mass. Ultrasound allows your doctor to make this important distinction and to assess other important features.

During your breast ultrasound

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves (not radiation) to make pictures of the structures in the breast. A technologist places a small hand-held plastic device (transducer) on the skin over the breast along with a clear gel that allows the device to closely contact the skin. The transducer is a microphone-like device that sends and receives sound waves. These sound wave patterns are displayed as an image of the breast tissue on a screen.

Ultrasound is performed by specially trained technologists and radiologists (doctors trained in evaluating imaging tests), and the ultrasound test is reviewed by radiologists who are trained to look at these tests.

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