A new ultrasound technique allows radiologists to distinguish benign from malignant breast lesions. Using elasticity imaging, researchers correctly identified both cancerous and harmless lesions in nearly all of the cases studied. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
Elasticity imaging is a modification of a routine ultrasound exam, like a manual self-exam, but more sensitive. The noninvasive technique works by gauging how much tissue moves when pushed, and it can detect how soft or stiff an object is.
Researchers used a real-time freehand elasticity imaging technique in correlation with a routine ultrasound exam to study 166 lesions identified and scheduled for biopsy in 99 patients. Ultrasound-guided biopsies were performed on 80 patients with 123 lesions. Biopsy showed that elasticity imaging correctly identified all 17 malignant lesions and 105 of 106 benign lesions, for a sensitivity of 100 percent and a specificity of 99 percent.
The study, directed by Dr. Richard G. Barr, professor of radiology at Northeastern Ohio University, is scheduled to expand to an international multicenter trial beginning in January.