Ultrasound exams (also called sonograms) use sound waves to image masses and other breast abnormalities. Sound waves do not emit radiation, and are safe to use in pregnancy. Ultrasound is the test of choice to diagnose cysts, abnormal lymph nodes, and many types of breast cancer. Because ultrasound is user dependent, it’s important your ultrasound exam is done by an expert.

In a diagnostic breast ultrasound, only one or a few areas of breast tissue are targeted. You lie on your back or rolled onto your side, often with your arm raised above your head to even out the skin and breast tissue. The sonographer or breast imager will apply warm water-based gel to your skin and then move the ultrasound transducer (also known as a “probe”) along your skin in the area of a suspected abnormality. You will feel light to moderate pressure from the transducer. The sonographer or breast imager will take pictures of both normal tissue and anything abnormal they see.

Diagnostic breast ultrasound images should be read in conjunction with a mammogram, unless a patient is under the age of 30 or is pregnant.