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What Is a Breast Ultrasound?

ImageUltrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Ultrasound exams do not use ionizing radiation (as used in X-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels. Ultrasound pictures of the breast show the internal structures of the breast.

During a breast ultrasound, the sonographer or physician performing the test may use scanning techniques to evaluate blood flow or lack of flow in any breast mass. In some cases, this may provide additional information as to the cause of an abnormality.

Ultrasounds can be offered for patients who:

  • Are at high risk for breast cancer and unable to tolerate an MRI or a breast MRI examination.
  • Are at intermediate risk for breast cancer based on family history, personal history of breast cancer or prior biopsy showing an abnormal result or who have dense breasts.
  • Have silicone breast implants and very little tissue can be included on the mammogram.
  • Are pregnant or should not to be exposed to X-rays (which is necessary for a mammogram).

How Is the Procedure Performed?

  • You will lie on your back with your arm raised above your head on the examining table.
  • A clear, water-based gel is applied to the area being studied to help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin.
  • The radiologist or sonographer then presses the transducer firmly against the skin in various locations, moving over the area of interest or angling the sound beam from a farther location to better see an area of concern.
  • When the examination is complete, you may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed.

Download the breast ultrasound prep manual for complete preparation instructions.

Northside Hospital Gwinnett and Northside Hospital Duluth, formerly Gwinnett Medical Center, use state-of-the-art GE LOGIQ® 9 ultrasound scanners at all locations. The GE LOGIQ 9 Volume Ultrasound is capable of producing high-definition 3-D ultrasounds and 4-D ultrasounds that can be viewed in real-time from different vantage points, which was previously not possible with traditional ultrasound systems. Images can be rotated to reveal details previously unseen in two-dimensional imaging. This technology also allows for fewer re-scans, improved patient comfort and shorter exam times.

Who Interprets the Results and How Do I Get Them?

Our board-certified radiologists will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will discuss the results with you.

Northside Hospital Imaging has multiple convenient Atlanta-area locations including LawrencevilleHamilton Mill, Peachtree Corners and Duluth. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 678-312-3444.