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Why would I require a breast ultrasound?

Breast ultrasound is well suited for these situations:

  • If you notice a lump, changes in the structure or discharge from the tip of the nipple
  • As an additional examination when changes are detected on mammography or MRI
  • Follow-up of a previously diagnosed pathology
  • Breast pain
  • Breast implant surveillance

Is there any preparation required before the examination?

No preparation is required for the breast ultrasound.

How is a breast ultrasound examination performed?

Before the examination, radiologist Dr.Karīna Panova will answer all your questions and briefly explain the nature of the examination. Before the examination you will be asked to lie down on a couch and expose your chest.  Sometimes you will be asked to raise your arm above your head. A small amount of ultrasound gel will be applied to your skin and a small probe will be held close to your breast. The probe is used to systematically examine one breast and the other so that all the breast tissue is examined. Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped from your skin. The ultrasound gel does not stain clothing.

After the examination, the doctor will explain the findings, provide a description of the ultrasound examination and give further recommendations.

What happens after the examination?

After the examination, you can continue your day as normal.

If changes are observed during the examination

If changes are detected during the examination, the specialist will explain what further action is needed and, if necessary, recommend further investigations, such as a biopsy under ultrasonographic control.

Ultrasonographic examination

Ultrasonography is an absolutely safe, harmless and painless method of examination. During the examination, an image is obtained using ultrasound waves that are sent from a probe to the part of the body in question and then captured back by the probe. Better transmission of the ultrasound waves is achieved by the use of ultrasonographic gel. 

In addition, Doppler sonography can be used to assess whether the mass is well vascularised, which in turn helps to determine whether the mass is dangerous.  Studies have shown that ultrasonography and MRI can be a very important addition to conventional mammography, which is the main method of breast examination in menopausal women. In younger women, breast ultrasound is the leading method of examination and this is directly related to the density of the glandular tissue of the breast: the denser and firmer the breast, the more appropriate the ultrasound and vice versa.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the mammary glands is more accurate than ultrasonography, but it is more expensive and the radiologist cannot position the mass differently and view it dynamically from all sides as with ultrasonography, and ultrasonography is the best method for performing precise punctures of the mass.

If the woman is already undergoing regular MRI monitoring, additional ultrasonography is usually not necessary. Regular MRI scans are recommended for young girls starting at the age of 25 with hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome.

Ultrasound may be offered as a screening test for women who:

  • Have a high risk of breast cancer (e.g. BRCA1/2 gene mutation) but cannot have an MRI because of a metal prosthetic or implant;
  • Perimenopausal woman with increased density of breast glands

What are the benefits and risks of breast ultrasound?

The benefits:

  • Breast ultrasound is non-invasive (no needles or injections)
  • It is widely available, easy to use and cheaper than other examination methods
  • It is safe and does not use ionising radiation
  • Provides a clear view of soft tissue that is not clearly visible on mammographic images
  • Provides real-time image formation, making it a good tool to guide minimally invasive procedures such as puncture biopsies or fluid aspiration
  • Excellent for women with firm and dense breasts, as well as women with breast implants

Ultrasonography can accurately identify benign changes in the breast glands - fibroadenomas, fat lobules or benign cysts. For most women in their 30s and 50s, ultrasonography will be used as a complementary examination to mammography. For women under 30 years of age, ultrasonography is the main method of investigation.

The risks:

  • A breast ultrasound examination may initiate additional procedures, such as the need for a repeat ultrasound, aspiration or biopsy.

Disadvantages of breast ultrasonography

Ultrasonography of the breast glands is an excellent examination, but it is not a substitute for screening mammography or MRI.

  • Breast cancer may not be seen during an ultrasound scan
  • Calcifications (one of the signs of cancer), which are easy to spot on mammography, cannot be seen on ultrasound
  • Some early breast cancers only appear as calcifications on mammograms
  • Invasive procedures, such as puncture of the mass are needed to clarify the diagnosis.
  • Most suspicious masses detected on ultrasonography will not be confirmed as breast cancer

Do I need a doctor's referral for a breast ultrasound scan?

No referral is needed when you arrive for the examination, but such a referral makes the radiologist's job easier, as the specialist can better focus on clarifying the issue at hand.

How do I book an appointment?

You can book a breast ultrasound examination by calling 24508300.

How quickly can I book an examination?

We offer the examination as quickly as possible - usually within 1-2 weeks.

How much does a breast ultrasound scan cost?

Price: 55 euros