Also called a sonogram, this is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to outline specific areas of the breast.
Breast ultrasound is used to evaluate possible breast abnormalities that are detected during a screening or diagnostic mammography or on a physical breast examination, as well as during an:
- Ultrasound Needle Core Biopsy or
- Fine Needle Aspiration.
An ultrasound needle core biopsy is a procedure that involves removing small samples of breast tissue using a hollow “core” needle and ultrasound. The samples are examined under a microscope in order to detect the presence of cancer cells.
How to Prepare: On the day of your procedure, it is best to wear a comfortable, two-piece outfit since you will need to wear a gown. Also, avoid deodorants, perfumes, creams, powders or lotions. Patients should ask their healthcare provider about discontinuing blood thinners or aspirin prior to the procedure.
What to Expect: The biopsy will be done while you lie on an examination table. Your hands will be placed at your side or above your head making it easier for radiologist to find the lump. A local anesthetic (lidocaine) will be injected with a small needle to numb the area. Once the area is numb, a small incision (less than an inch) will be made in the skin and the biopsy needle will be inserted through the skin. The radiologist will guide the needle into the area of concern by feeling the lump or by ultrasound. Slight pressure during the procedure may be felt, but you should not experience any significant pain. The needle will be removed, pressure will be applied to the needle site to stop any bleeding, and a bandage will be applied.
Your Results: After the exam, the specimen will be sent to the pathologist and examined under the microscope. The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider, who will, in turn, forward the results to you.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is often used to aspirate or drain fluid from benign (noncancerous) fluid-filled cysts. Cysts are the most common cause of palpable (felt) breast masses in premenopausal women older than 40 years.
FNA biopsies are performed by the radiologist. If the breast lump is small and cannot be felt, ultrasound may be used to help the radiologist guide the needle to the precise area of the breast. If the area shows to be solid or the fluid collected looks suspicious, the radiologist will likely recommend an additional biopsy. In the instance where there is a clearly benign diagnosis, this procedure may prevent you from undergoing surgery.
The entire procedure only takes a few minutes.
How to Prepare: On the day of your procedure, it is best to wear a comfortable, two-piece outfit since you will need to wear a gown. Also, avoid deodorants, creams, powders or lotions, which can interfere with the images.
What to Expect: You will lie on your back on a table. The radiologist will stabilize the lump between his or her fingers and insert a long, thin needle through the breast into the lump. Local anesthesia is not required because the needles used for FNA biopsies are smaller than needles used to draw blood. A vacuum is created to remove some tissue from the lump.
Once an adequate amount of breast tissue has been obtained, the needle is withdrawn, and pressure is applied to minimize bruising.
Your Results: The tissue collected will be sent for review by the pathologist. Your results will be forwarded to your healthcare provider.