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Medical News & Perspectives
February 7, 2007

New Ultrasound “Elasticity” Technique May Reduce Need for Breast Biopsies

JAMA. 2007;297(5):455. doi:10.1001/jama.297.5.455

Chicago—A variation on an emerging ultrasound technique accurately identified benign and malignant breast lesions in a small study presented at the Scientific Assembly of the Radiological Society of North America held here in November. If validated in larger clinical trials, this new technique could greatly reduce the need for invasive biopsies to confirm lesion type.

The technique involves “elasticity imaging,” an ultrasound system that measures the hardness or stiffness of soft tissues. Malignant lesions are harder than benign. For unknown reasons, malignant lesions appear larger when viewed through elasticity imaging than when viewed with traditional ultrasound. One theory suggests that a malignant lesion appears larger through elasticity imaging because desmoplastic surrounding tissue (fibrous tissue that frequently forms around tumors) also shows up in the image (Konofagou EE. Ultrasonics. 2004;42:331-336).