Ultrasound happens to be an effective as well as a standalone diagnostic technique in patients that have focal breast complaints as per a new study. These breast complaints can be related to lumps, pains, discharge from nipples, or any other conditions that are confined to a particular breast area.
The study happened to be published in Radiology, which is a Radiological Society of North America journal.
It is well to note that in women, the complaints related to focal breasts happen to be a frequent issue. For instance, in the Netherlands, around 70,000 women visit the radiology department per year with complaints pertaining to focal breasts. Most of the common ones happen to be those of lumps or pain.
Apparently, many women who come with focal breast complaints fall between ages 30 and 50. The standard diagnostic tool for women who are 30 years of age and older is the digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), which is followed by a targeted ultrasound.
Although the DBT offers a complete image of both breasts, ultrasound on the other hand can help achieve more targeted imaging when it comes to a specific breast area. Notably, the quality of ultrasound images has improved considerably in recent years.
When it comes to this new study, the researchers have set out to look into the ultrasound’s performance alone as a diagnostic tool that’s effective in women above the age of 30 who have come up with localised breast complaints at 3 hospitals through September 2017 to June 2019.
According to study co-author, Linda Appleman, MD, who is a breast radiologist at the Department of Medical Imaging in Nijmegen at the Netherlands’ Radboud University Medical Centre, ultrasound as the very first imaging method can very well share clarity when it comes to focal breast complaints.
Notably, breast lumps as well as localised breast pain are two of the most common symptoms that have been reported by the 1961 women who have been included in the study. Overall, a total of seven subgroups with focal complaints had been recognised. Across all the patients, targeted ultrasound happened to be the first, which was followed by DBT. If needed, a biopsy was performed after an ultrasound. Because ultrasounds happened to be conducted initially, the radiologists weren’t too convinced by the DBT images when it came to interpreting ultrasounds.
The evaluation itself showed that the ultrasound alone led to an accurate diagnosis in 1759 patients out of the entire lot of 1961 patients, which was almost 90%. Above 80% of the complaints involved normal or benign findings, such as a cyst. Dr. Appleman added that they found that the diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound in women with focal breast issues was high.
On the basis of ultrasounds alone, 374 patients took biopsies, which in turn resulted in around 192 symptomatic diagnoses of breast cancer.
It is well to be noted that ultrasound of focal breast issues may be especially useful in low and middle-income nations where ultrasound can be found more than DBT. As per Dr. Appleman, their study reflected that ultrasound alone can be effective when it comes to diagnosing focal breast complaints in the majority of women. In settings where there are limited resources, initial ultrasound can always prove to be beneficial compared to mammography.
Notably, the cost effectiveness of the ultrasound as well as the enhanced patient comfort throughout the procedure are other elements to be considered as far as expanding the implementation of symptomatic breast cancer diagnosis are concerned.