Automated breast ultrasound allows for quick and more complete breast cancer screening of asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue, taking an average of three minutes of physician time, according to a study presented May 3 at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) in Vancouver.
“Ultrasound can and does detect additional, clinically significant, invasive, node-negative breast cancers, that are not seen on mammography, but a handheld ultrasound screening exam requires 20 to 30 minutes of physician time,” Rachel Brem, MD, of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and lead author of the study, explained in a statement. Having a technique that takes only three minutes is a “game-changer,” she added.
Brem and colleagues quantitatively assessed radiologist time needed for a 3D automated breast ultrasound (ABUS). Because ABUS uses nonphysician personnel for image acquisition, the only physician time involved is in the interpretation of the study.
Seventy-five sequential ABUS exams interpreted by one of three radiologists with at least two years of experience were included in the study. Mean reading time was 173.4 seconds—just under three minutes. Individual reading times ranged from 26.5 to 615.4 seconds.
ABUS is currently limited in use. However, a FDA panel has recently voted in favor of its efficacy and safety. “When the Food and Drug Administration clears automated breast ultrasound for screening, I’m confident we will see a rapid integration of this approach into practice to improve cancer detection in women with dense breasts,” said Brem.