Ultrasound Strain Elastography for Breast Lesions: Computer-Aided Evaluation With Quantifiable Elastographic Features

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Abstract

Objectives

To develop and evaluate a set of quantifiable elastographic features based on ultrasound real-time strain elastography (SE) in differentiating between benign and malignant breast lesions.

Methods

The SE and conventional B-mode ultrasound images of 226 breast lesions (81 malignant, 145 benign) were obtained from 226 consecutive women. By using a computer-aided tool, four elastographic features (elasticity score, lesion stiffness degree, lesion-to-fat strain ratio, and elastography-to-B-mode lesion area ratio) were respectively calculated and evaluated. Histopathologic results were used as the reference standard. B-mode Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System categorization was used to compare the performances between B-mode ultrasound and SE. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were performed to evaluate the diagnostic performances for three data sets (conventional B-mode ultrasound alone, SE features alone, combined SE features).

Results

Quantifiable SE features for malignant lesions all showed significantly higher values than those for benign lesions (all P < .001). The evaluation with any individual SE feature significantly improved the specificity in breast lesion differentiation compared with B-mode ultrasound (all P <.001). The logistic regression model combing SE features significantly improved the diagnostic performance compared with B-mode US, with significantly increased specificity (95.2% versus 54.5%; P < .001) and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (0.988 versus 0.921, P < .001).

Conclusions

Computer-aided tool with SE provided further elasticity information for breast characterization. Evaluation using quantifiable SE features showed better diagnostic performance than conventional B-mode ultrasound in breast lesion differentiation.

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