ABUS Effective Screening Alternative to MRI

July 24, 2012

Automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) is as effective as MRI in breast cancer screening in women with dense breast tissue, researchers say.

Automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) is as effective as MRI in breast cancer screening in women with dense breast tissue, show results of a study published in the July/August issue of Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. In addition, the ABU’s short examination time and ease of use may make it a practical choice in many situations.

For this preliminary study, researchers from Nova Southeastern University in Winter Springs, Fla., assessed 24 asymptomatic women with more than 50 percent breast density on digital mammography. Each woman underwent an ABUS exam, which was followed a week later by a 3D contrast breast MRI. After comparing the two examinations, the researchers found 15 malignant tumors and nine benign pathologies.

Comparable diagnostic reliability was observed between the ABUS and the MRI in differentiating benign from malignant breast lesions based on similar morphologic criteria.

ABUS is cleared for diagnostic use, but not specifically for screening in women with dense breasts. ABUS does have disadvantages, including the inability to compress the breast tissue and the ability to view tissue or lesion vascularity. However, advantages to the procedure include that it is not invasive and that it is simple to use with less technical training than an MRI requires, perhaps making it more viable to screen larger groups of people.

The authors concluded that ABUS is a promising cost-effective adjunct diagnostic modality to MRI in the evaluation women with increased breast density by digital mammography.