Breast sonogram is a safe and painless procedure using high frequency sound waves, whereby the image of the breast can be acquired. A sonogram detects all areas of the breast and from almost any orientation including the blood vessels. A breast sonogram is by itself an evaluation procedure done to give details about a mass or any abnormality detected during a mammogram or a breast exam.
Procedure of Breast Sonogram
The patient is first asked to remove all clothes and jewellery from the waist upwards. A towel or a gown may be draped. A gel is placed on the breast. A transducer probe is then moved over the breast. The transducer emits high frequency sound waves. These are reflected back to the transducer.
The detector analyses the sound waves. The images of the breast appears on the monitor. A breast sonogram usually takes 15 to 30 minutes. Additional time may be taken if a biopsy is scheduled along with it. A sonogram detects the breast tissues, structure and blood vessels. Doppler ultrasound is even more effective to determine the blood flow.
Why is it Done?
To Find out the Nature of Breast Abnormality
A mass in breast is detected by a physician or during a mammogram. The sonogram helps in exact identification of its nature. A sonogram can determine if its solid tissue like a canc erous or non-cancerous lump; or if its fluid filled like a cyst. It can also detect the abnormalities in the surrounding tissues.
Breast Cancer Screening
Mammograms are usually used as a breast cancer screening tool. However it may miss out on certain lumps especially in dense breasts.
Sonogram can be used as a screening tool in the cases where the breast is dense, in pregnant women where they cannot be exposed to x- rays, who have silicone implants in their breasts and in those who are at high risk for getting breast cancer.
Sonogram Guided Procedures
Sonogram is used as a guide to locate the position of tissues needed to be taken for biopsy; locate the position of needles and tubes for the collection of fluid or pus in the case of cyst or abscess.
Follow up Screening
A breast sonogram is usually done to monitor the size of a cyst or changes in the breast cancer. It also detects how far the cancer has spread.
Benefits of Breast Sonogram
A sonogram shows all areas of the breast, even those that cannot be detected by a mammogram. This includes area close to the chest wall, those with silicone breast implants and very little breast tissue. A sonogram makes use of high frequency sound waves which is not dangerous.
Unlike x-rays, a sonogram can be done even during pregnancy. Also, sonograms show much detailed image, it is easy to distinguish a cyst from a solid mass. As sonograms give detailed pictures, it often gives a good diagnosis, sometimes even ruling out a need for biopsy. A sonogram is beneficial for giving guidance for biopsy, to aspirate fluids and pus etc. There are no risk factors or side effects associated with breast sonogram.