Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves (beyond the range of human hearing) and computer processing to create detailed images of soft-tissue structures in the breast. Its exceptional ability to find lumps and distinguish between cancerous tumors and benign cysts makes it particularly valuable in the fight against breast cancer. Yet despite its sensitivity, breast ultrasound is most effective when used to supplement - not replace - standard cancer screening methods, such as mammograms. Used in combination with other imaging techniques, doctors can make a more complete and accurate assessment of the nature and extent of cancer and other breast diseases.

Doctors typically refer women to Florida Hospital for breast ultrasound exams for the following reasons:

  • Characterize breast abnormalities detected during a physical exam or seen on a mammogram
  • Supplement mammograms that are difficult to interpret or for patients with dense breasts
  • Screen women with silicone breast implants
  • Screen pregnant women and those who should not be exposed to x-rays or unable to have a breast MRI
  • Provide image guidance for biopsies

Ultrasound scanners produce images from high frequency sound waves, which pass through the skin from a handheld device called a transducer that has been pressed against the breast. Inside the body, the sound waves are reflected anywhere changes in tissue density occur, creating an "echo" of sound waves that bounce back to the transducer. Sensors in the transducer convert the echo into electronic impulses, which the computer transforms into digital images.


Standard, non-invasive, diagnostic ultrasound is extremely safe, basically painless and poses no known health threat to humans. Ultrasound exams involve no radiation and may be repeated as often as necessary. It is the preferred imaging technique for monitoring pregnant women and unborn babies.  

What to Expect

Before the Test

Your doctor or our staff will provide specific instructions prior to your appointment.  Most breast ultrasound exams do not require any special preparation. For your convenience, choose a two-piece outfit to wear to your appointment. You will need to undress from the waist up and will be given a gown. Also, it is best not to wear a necklace; since you'll be asked to remove it.

During the Test

Most breast ultrasound exams take about 30 minutes to complete.  As the test begins, you will be asked to lay face-up on an examination table with your arm raised above your head. The breast under study will be exposed and a warm, water-based gel will be applied to the skin. The technologist (the majority of whom are women) will then press the transducer firmly against the skin, moving it around to capture the best image. Each breast is scanned separately in this manner. When all the necessary images have been taken, the technologist will wipe off any excess gel. Unless you are instructed otherwise, when the exam is finished you are free to get dressed and leave to carry on with your normal daily activities.

The Results

Once obtained, your ultrasound image remains an electronic file. Florida Hospital has the most sophisticated network, viewing stations and software for processing, transmitting, reviewing and storing these electronic images.

One of our physicians, specially trained in breast imaging, will examine and interpret your scan and create a report of his/her findings that will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will present the results and discuss them with you.    


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