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AUTOMATED BREAST ULTRASOUND

An automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) uses high frequency sound waves to take 3D images of the whole breast, targeting specific areas and ensuring they are displayed in a reproducible fashion. It is especially beneficial to women with dense breast tissue, because a high breast density (Volpara) score can make a mammogram harder to read and ABUS allows the technologist to check the breast from a variety of angles offering more accurate interpretations.

ABUS is a fast and almost painless procedure which can look at both breasts in about 15 minutes. It’s often recommended as supplemental screening in conjunction with a screening mammography for women with extremely dense breast tissue (Volpara D), and women with heterogeneously dense breast tissue (Volpara C) combined with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. For more information about breast density, read our article What are Dense Breasts?

(ABUS video)

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • If you experience breast tenderness, do not consume caffeine in the days leading up to the exam.
  • Schedule your appointment one week after your last menstruation to decrease breast tenderness.
  • Please tell us if you have any problems moving or if you have shoulder or chest pain.
  • For a breast ultrasound alone, you may wear deodorant or antiperspirant.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit (e.g., shirt and pants), so you can change for the exam more comfortably.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time to check in with reception.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?

  • You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and given a robe.
  • Your breast area will need to be visible for the exam and your sonographer will need to apply a generous amount of ultrasound gel.
  • The sonographer will press the ABUS transducer to the breast and hold it while the images are gathered. The transducer is designed to conform to your shape and make the exam comfortable, but you may feel some pressure.
  • Both breasts will be examined, which will take about 15 minutes for the entire exam.
  • The radiologist will review the images and compare to previous ultrasounds or mammograms.
  • In some cases, the sonographer may ask the radiologist to come into the exam room to review an area identified in the breast. This does not mean that something is wrong.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?

We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor by the next business day.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

This exam is covered under your Alberta Health Care Plan. It is not currently offered at our Saskatchewan clinics.

FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Please ensure that you bring your requisition with you to your appointment.

DURATION

15 minutes