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J Clin Ultrasound. 2002 Jul-Aug;30(6):323-31.

Sonographic evaluation of mammographically detected microcalcifications without a mass prior to stereotactic core needle biopsy.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 5 Fu-Hsing Road, Tao Yuan Hsien, Taiwan.



The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of sonographically re-evaluating areas of microcalcification found mammographically before undertaking stereotactic core needle biopsy (SCNB).


Patients with nonpalpable breast lesions appearing as microcalcifications on mammograms and who had been referred to us for SCNB were re-evaluated sonographically before the procedure. None of the breast lesions had been associated with a density on the mammograms, and the initial sonographic evaluations had been negative. Using the mammograms for correlation, we meticulously re-evaluated the areas of microcalcifications sonographically using a high-frequency linear-array transducer. The sonographic and histopathologic results were then reviewed and correlated. The sonographic findings and visibility of the mammographically detected microcalcifications were analyzed by the 2-tailed Fisher's exact test and the chi-square test.


Sixty-six patients, who had 68 cases of microcalcifications, were enrolled. Thirteen of the 66 patients underwent surgery, and 9 of the 13 were found to have breast carcinoma. In the sonographic re-evaluation before SCNB in these 9 patients, an associated soft tissue mass was demonstrated in 5 patients but not in the other 4. Sonographic re-evaluation also revealed abnormalities in 24 of 68 cases (35.3%), in contrast to the negative findings on the initial sonography. Using the chi-square test to identify a trend, we found that the percentage of cases that were sonographically visible was highest for clustered benign microcalcifications and lowest for segmental benign microcalcifications (p < 0.0001).


In breast lesions that appear as microcalcifications without an associated mass on mammograms, pre-SCNB sonographic re-evaluation with a high-frequency transducer can depict microcalcifications, particularly the clustered ones, and can detect small associated masses. Although the absence of a sonographically detectable mass in areas of mammographically detected microcalcifications does not guarantee the absence of cancer, the presence of an associated mass on sonography should warrant close follow-up in the case of negative results to avoid a delay in the diagnosis of breast carcinoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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