Reasons, Preparation and Side Effects of Breast Ultrasound

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is a Breast Ultrasound?

This is a method to find out if the lump in the breast is a solid mass or a cyst with fluid. If it is a cyst, then a health care professional will draw out the fluid with a syringe and a needle in a process known as aspiration. If the fluid is drained out completely and the cyst disappears, then no other treatment might be necessary. Through ultrasound, the position of the cyst or lump can be determined and the doctor can do an aspiration procedure or a biopsy.

In an ultrasound test, high-frequency sound waves are transmitted through the breast. The sound waves, which cannot be heard by the human ear, bounce off the breast surface, and these echoes are used to find the tumours, lumps or cysts.

Side Effects

There are no side effects of breast ultrasound. Ultrasounds do not use radiation.

During the Breast Ultrasound

You will be asked to change into a hospital gown. If you are wearing a two-piece outfit, then you will only have to remove the top/shirt. After this you will be asked to lie down on an examination table for the test.

A bit of water-soluble gel will be slathered onto the breast that needs to be examined. Then a probe is applied against the skin. The technologist might ask you to hold your breath a few times. A breast ultrasound takes about ten minutes. The gel will be wiped off, and you can speak with the doctor about the test results.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

A breast ultrasound is done to find out why the breast is painful, inflamed or red. If a lump has been found during self-examination then the ultrasound can check if it is a solid lump or a fluid-filled cyst. An ultrasound can also check the mammogram results that might seem abnormal. An ultrasound is often used to check the breast tissue of younger women because their breast tissue is dense and a mammogram might not be able to portray detailed results.

An ultrasound is also used to guide breast surgery, during biopsy, or to collect fluid from a breast cyst. Doctors use this to monitor the size of a cyst. If a woman has silicone breasts then a mammogram might not be able to detect lumps. In this case, an ultrasound is more effective.


Wear a two-piece outfit as this will help you get ready for your test faster. As you will need to remove your shirt/top and slip into a hospital gown. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions