Breast-Elasticity Imaging Package

Siemens Medical Solutions, Malvern, Pa, introduced its Acuson Antares Premium Edition?featuring the unique capability to perform real-time breast-elasticity imaging alongside traditional ultrasound imaging?at RSNA 2006. Elasticity imaging has the potential to provide superlative characterization of breast cancer by looking at the stiffness of tissue, which is an indicator of malignancy and also can be used to more accurately measure the degree to which the cancer has spread.

Initial research performed by Richard G. Barr, MD, PhD, professor of radiology at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Rootstown, Ohio, indicated that the technique could be useful in minimizing diagnostic biopsy procedures. Barr studied 166 breast lesions identified and scheduled for biopsy in 99 patients; he found that elasticity measurement offered the high specificity needed to characterize tumors.

Elasticity imaging works by using the same signals generated by a conventional ultrasound exam to generate an image of the mechanical property, or stiffness, of tissue. Strain is visualized in 256-shade grayscale, with the black end of the spectrum representing stiffness. The image is called an elastogram, and it is shown side-by-side with the conventional ultrasound image; both can be generated by any linear transducer on the Acuson Antares system free hand, in real time.

“You need a system that can process this information fast enough that the examination can be done in real time,” explains Carol Lowery, senior product manager of general imaging at Siemens Medical. “The beauty of it is that if you have the Antares Premium system, this works with all of our standard transducers. It?s a software feature.”

Although the Acuson Antares Premium Edition is available, an international, multi-center clinical trial began this month to validate breast elasticity imaging. Future plans for this technique include thyroid, musculoskeletal, and lymph node applications.

The Spec Sheet

  1. The elastogram is generated in real time alongside the conventional ultrasound image for faster results with no disruption to workflow.
  2. Breast elasticity is measured using conventional ultrasound transducers and ordinary RF signals?no contrast injection or uncomfortable compression is required.
  3. Desmoplasia is easily characterized, offering definitive information about lesion boundaries.

The Visible Difference

When used as an adjunct to standard mammography, elastograms have the potential to sharply visualize tumor size and malignancy?even in dense breasts. This additional information could improve diagnostic confidence and decrease the number of biopsies performed.