The axilla is located on the underside of the upper arm and is commonly known as the armpit. The axillary ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic exam that captures images of the major structures within the axilla. An ultrasound is a very safe and reliable diagnostic imaging resource that assesses pathology and guides physicians towards your individualized treatment plan.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of information that a diagnostic axillary ultrasound can provide:
- Determining the identity of an abnormal mass
- Cause of pain or swelling in the axillary area
- Nerves (i.e. axillary nerve)
If you have any signs or symptoms of pain in the axillary region, such as pain, swelling, or abnormal mass, and want to get a diagnostic ultrasound, a referral from a general practitioner or family doctor is required for this exam.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR AN AXILLARY ULTRASOUND APPOINTMENT?
In general, there is no special preparations required before the ultrasound but your doctor may provide you with specific instructions. Dress in clothes that allow for easy access to examine the axillary area, otherwise, a medical gown will be provided.
A water-based gel is used to improve the transmission of the ultrasound waves. Should you have any allergies to gel it is important to let the ultrasound technician know before the examination. In addition, please let the ultrasound technician know if you have had any previous surgery around the imaged area.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, please notify your doctor. If you have any questions or concerns with preparing for your ultrasound, please discuss these with your physician before your appointment.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING AN AXILLARY ULTRASOUND APPOINTMENT?
Upon arrival, you will be shown to a private room where the ultrasound technician will offer you a medical gown to change into if needed. You will be asked to remove any jewellery that may interfere with the ultrasound procedure. When ready, the ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of a water-based gel to the transducer head and gently move it along the axillary area with mild to moderate pressure to capture clear images. Once all necessary images have been captured, you will be able to wipe off the gel and get dressed.
The assessment is approximately 30 minutes long.
Shortly after your appointment, a radiologist will review your images and send a report to your general practitioner or family physician. Once the report is reviewed, your doctor will contact you with the results.