Elastography: Rising tide in breast imaging & beyond

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Lisa Fratt, Editor

With the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago, Nov. 27 to Dec. 3., a little over a week away, a number of hot topics are beginning to emerge.

In the ultrasound arena, elastography, which measures tissue stiffness to help distinguish benign from malignant tissue, is flexing its muscles. Although the technique is not new, advances in software and integrated elastography features on advanced ultrasound systems and diagnostic workstations coupled with greater clinical understanding are fueling a resurgence in elastography applications.

Breast imaging applications are leading the pack. Last year, researchers reported elastography could help breast imagers better differentiate benign from cancerous lesions, which, in turn, could cut the number of unnecessary biopsies. Expect researchers at RSNA 2010 to continue to make the case for elastography as an adjunct tool in breast imaging.

Indeed, elastography could work better in connection with rather than instead of other modalities. A poster presentation at RSNA 2010 suggests that combined B-mode ultrasonography and elasticity scoring produced better diagnostic performance for breast masses smaller than 1 cm than each modality did separately. Stay tuned.

Although breast imaging applications are promising, the utility of elastography extends to other anatomic regions. Specifically, elastography shows promise in the assessment of liver disease including diagnosis of liver fibrosis. Other up and coming applications include assessment of musculoskeletal healing.

Elastography is sprinkled through the RSNA 2010 schedule. In addition to clinical studies demonstrating its utility, look for sessions that educate practitioners on the nuances (physics) of elastography. It’s time well-spent.

Enjoy the show, and stay in touch.

Lisa Fratt
Editor of Health Imaging & IT