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Ultrasound is an imaging test that sends high-frequency sound waves through the breast and converts them into images on a viewing screen. There is no radiation involved.

Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive test. It’s often used as a follow-up test after an abnormal finding on a mammogram, breast MRI or clinical breast exam. If a needle biopsy is needed, breast ultrasound may also be used to help guide the procedure.

Studies show breast ultrasound alone is not a good breast cancer screening tool.

Breast ultrasound has many false positive and false negative results. A false positive result shows a woman has breast cancer when she does not. A false negative result shows a woman does not have breast cancer when in fact, she does have breast cancer.

However, breast ultrasound is often used as a follow-up test after an abnormal finding on a mammogram, breast MRI or clinical breast exam.

Before Your Breast Ultrasound

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. You might need to remove some or all of your clothing and wear a gown. You might also need to remove jewelry.

During Your Breast Ultrasound

For most ultrasound exams, you lie on an examination table that can be tilted or moved. A clear, water-based gel is applied to the area of the body being studied to help a small hand-held device called the transducer make firm contact with the body. The transducer is moved back and forth over the area of interest.

An ultrasound exam generally takes 30 minutes. Because the images are in real-time, you can usually leave immediately after the exam rather than waiting until the images are reviewed.

A radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your physician, who will share the results with you.

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