Bilateral Unilateral Ultrasound

A breast ultrasound is a diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of soft tissue. An ultrasound is a simple, diagnostic tool that doctors use to take a look inside your body. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to show doctors your internal organs and structures in real-time, helping them detect conditions like blood clots, gallstones, cancer, and more. Ultrasounds are a form of diagnostic imaging, just like x-rays or CT scans.

Breast ultrasounds use these high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the tissue inside the breast. This can help detect abnormalities in the breast, such as a cyst or tumor.

Breast ultrasounds are usually performed as a follow-up test to a mammogram- an X-ray picture of the breast. These tests are especially common for women under the age of 25 or women who are pregnant. Because X-ray images require the use of radiation, they may be unsafe for these individuals. Ultrasounds can provide a 3D picture of breast tissue, without the use of ionizing radiation.

Breast ultrasounds are commonly ordered as follow-up tests if a mammogram detects an abnormality in breast tissue.

Common abnormalities in the breast may include:

  • Unidentified lumps in breast tissue
  • Pain or tenderness in the breast
  • Spontaneous discharge from the breast/ nipple

Ultrasounds can help doctors determine if a lump in the breast is a fluid-filled cyst, or solid tissue - a potential indicator of a tumor. Conditions that may cause benign lumps in the breast include:

- Breast fat necrosis: Damaged or dead lumps of tissue in the breast that occur as a result of radiation, surgery, or injury. Breast fat necrosis is harmless and causes few symptoms besides lumps in the breast.

- Fibrocystic breasts: Lumpy or ropelike tissue in the breast usually caused by hormonal changes during a menstrual period. The discomfort caused by fibrocystic breasts will usually go away on its own without treatment.

- Fibroadenoma: Benign tumors in the breast, common in women between the ages of 20 and 30. These tumors are harmless, and generally cause no pain or other symptoms. Benign tumors in the breast will usually begin to go away during menopause.

- Intraductal papilloma: A benign tumor that develops in the milk duct of the breast. These growths may cause lumps in the breast or abnormal discharge from the nipple. In some cases, these tumors can’t even be felt.

Breasts are made of dense tissue. The denser this tissue, the more difficult it is to get a clear picture via mammography. If your doctor is unable to definitely diagnose an abnormal growth in breast tissue from images provided by a mammogram, they may request a breast ultrasound to determine whether or not the growth is hollow or solid. This can help provide a diagnosis for breast cancer.

A breast ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure done with painless sound waves. The test will usually be done in the radiology department of a hospital, doctor's office, or a peripheral vascular laboratory.

You'll need to remove any clothing, jewelry, or any other objects in the chest area. Additionally, you will be asked to disrobe from the waist up so that the ultrasound device can be placed directly onto your skin. In most cases, you will be asked to lie on your back as the testing occurs.

Your doctor will use a hand-held device known as a transducer, which directs high-frequency sound waves into the tissue being studied. After the area is gelled (gel helps conduct the ultrasound waves), the transducer is placed against the skin of your breast for imaging.

As the sound waves echo off the breast tissue, the transducer sends data to a computer that records the feedback and creates images.

This procedure usually takes about 30 minutes. Unless further testing is needed, most individuals are free to resume daily activities after their ultrasound.

After your appointment, a radiologist will review the images produced by the exam. They will then present their findings to your health care provider, who will pass on the results to you. This may take 1-3 business days, depending on the clinic.

Your doctor may provide specific preparation orders if needed. In most cases, you do not need to fast or avoid medication prior to a breast ultrasound.

It is recommended that you wear comfortable, easily removable clothing to your appointment. A breast ultrasound requires you to undress from the waist up so that the transducer may be applied directly to the skin. It is usually required that you remove all jewelry before the scan. Avoid applying lotions or cosmetics to the chest area before your appointment, as these can interfere with the imaging technology.

Yes. Ultrasounds are non-invasive exams that provide real-time imaging of blood flow and organs in the body. This type of imaging is totally safe and extremely accurate.

Breast ultrasounds - like all ultrasounds - record sound waves pinging off blood vessels in the body, unlike CT scans which use ionizing radiation to produce internal images of the body. This means that you will not be exposed to any radioactive substances while undergoing an ultrasound. Because of this, ultrasounds are generally the first form of diagnostic imaging ordered for women under the age of 25, or women who are pregnant.

Ultrasounds are generally less expensive than other forms of imaging. They do not require injections, nor is sedation needed for the procedure. These are quick and painless exams that usually take under an hour. After your appointment, you will likely be cleared to leave and go about your daily activities.

If you have any questions about different types of imaging, talk to your health care provider about the method that is right for you.

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