"Streaming detection" ultrasound could reduce number of diagnostic procedures for breast lumps

"Streaming detection" ultrasound accurately differentiated fluid-filled cysts from solid masses in a recent pilot study and has the potential to reduce the number of cyst aspirations and imaging follow-ups for breast masses that are indeterminate at conventional ultrasound, say researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.

According to the researchers, streaming detection uses conventional ultrasound techniques to focus sound waves into the lesion to cause movement in any fluid present in the mass. If there is fluid movement, it shows that the mass is a cyst, which are usually benign, instead of a solid mass. The streaming detection software is loaded onto a conventional ultrasound unit without the need for any additional space-occupying equipment.

In the study, streaming detection was able to successfully detect movement within fluid-filled cysts in half of 20 lesions recommended for cyst aspirations and correctly identified the lack of fluid movement in all seven of the solid lesions in the study.

“This technique has the potential to be used as a clinical tool to complement conventional breast ultrasound by allowing radiologists to differentiate a benign fluid-filled cyst from a solid lesion. The ability to confirm a cyst at the time of conventional ultrasound would reduce patient discomfort associated with cyst aspiration and help reduce the health care costs of cyst aspiration procedures,” said Sujata V. Ghate, MD, one of the researchers on the study. Cyst aspiration is the use of a small needle inserted into the breast to draw fluid from the mass in order to confirm that it is a cyst.

Dr. Ghate will present the full results of the study on May 17 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

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