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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2008 Sep;34(9):1373-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2008.02.002. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Quantitative assessment of breast lesion viscoelasticity: initial clinical results using supersonic shear imaging.

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  • 1Laboratoire Ondes et Acoustique, ESPCI, CNRS UMR 7587, INSERM, Ecole SupĂ©rieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, Paris Cedex05, France.


This paper presents an initial clinical evaluation of in vivo elastography for breast lesion imaging using the concept of supersonic shear imaging. This technique is based on the combination of a radiation force induced in tissue by an ultrasonic beam and an ultrafast imaging sequence capable of catching in real time the propagation of the resulting shear waves. The local shear wave velocity is recovered using a time-offlight technique and enables the 2-D mapping of shear elasticity. This imaging modality is implemented on a conventional linear probe driven by a dedicated ultrafast echographic device. Consequently, it can be performed during a standard echographic examination. The clinical investigation was performed on 15 patients, which corresponded to 15 lesions (4 cases BI-RADS 3, 7 cases BI-RADS 4 and 4 cases BI-RADS 5). The ability of the supersonic shear imaging technique to provide a quantitative and local estimation of the shear modulus of abnormalities with a millimetric resolution is illustrated on several malignant (invasive ductal and lobular carcinoma) and benign cases (fibrocystic changes and viscous cysts). In the investigated cases, malignant lesions were found to be significantly different from benign solid lesions with respect to their elasticity values. Cystic lesions have shown no shear wave propagate at all in the lesion (because shear waves do not propage in liquid). These preliminary clinical results directly demonstrate the clinical feasibility of this new elastography technique in providing quantitative assessment of relative stiffness of breast tissues. This technique of evaluating tissue elasticity gives valuable information that is complementary to the B-mode morphologic information. More extensive studies are necessary to validate the assumption that this new mode potentially helps the physician in both false-positive and false-negative rejection.

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