Up-and-coming ultrasound technology shows prowess as mammography adjunct

The emerging imaging technology called quantitative transmission (QT) ultrasound has shown its utility as an aid in distinguishing cysts from solid lesions in the breast, according to a study published online May 23 in Academic Radiology.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and from QT Ultrasound Labs of Novato, Calif., which is developing the technology and sponsored the study, trained 14 experienced radiologists on the tool, then had them interpret 37 blinded, randomized lesions as seen on mammography and transmission ultrasound.

The QT ultrasound scanner under review works by producing reflection B-mode and transmission images in three dimensions—coronal, axial and sagittal views, the authors explain.

For the study, the team confirmed solid lesions with pathology results and cysts with imaging from handheld ultrasound.

They found the radiologists were able to use the QT images to tell a cyst from a solid lesion with an average reader accuracy of 0.920.

Further, the mean reader sensitivity and specificity with QT ultrasound were 0.933 and 0.858, respectively.

These results pointed to “the importance of further study with this novel true three-dimensional automated technology for improving specificity while maintaining high sensitivity in order to prevent false-positive biopsies and ultimately provide quality breast care,” the authors wrote in their discussion.

“We believe that transmission ultrasound imaging can be used as an adjunct to mammography to improve the sensitivity and specificity of the breast screening process,” they add.

The authors acknowledged their small sample size as a limitation and state that prospective clinical trials are underway.

Academic Radiology has posted the study in full for free.