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Is MUT The Successor To The Mammogram?

March 18, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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We may have a safe, effective, and more comfortable alternative to—or successor to—the mammogram if early clinical trial results of multimodal ultrasound tomography hold up.

The procedure, known by the unfortunate acronym MUT, correctly identified 49 malignant and 62 benign breast lesions in 64 volunteers, according to Vasilis Marmarelis, PhD, the inventor of the technology.

Dr. Mamarelis is research professor of biomedical engineering and codirector of the Biomedical Simulations Resource Center at the University of Southern California School of Engineering in Los Angeles. He presented the clinical results earlier this month at the European Congress of Radiology in Vienna.

According to Dr. Mamarelis, as quoted by Medscape Medical News:

MUT is unique in its lesion differentiation capability that distinguishes malignant from benign lesions noninvasively and its ability to detect breast lesions as small as 2 mm in size in 3-D breast images, even in dense or silicon-augmented breasts.

He continued: “These are preliminary results and require more clinical data and analysis, but they do provide initial confirmation of the ability of MUT technology to detect and differentiate suspicious lesions discernible in mammograms.”

The study involved female volunteers with a median age of 59 who had received Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System scores of 3, 4, or 5 after mammograms. Because MUT is still experimental, established clinical procedures were followed—usually biopsy or surgery—after the MUT exam. Tissue examination showed that MUT had correctly differentiated between malignant and benign lesions in all cases.

MUT involves no ionizing radiation, contrast medium, or breast compression. The patient lies prone, and the breast is suspended freely in water. Transmission-mode ultrasound tomography takes 12 minutes per breast to create a 3-D image.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, ultrasound has the ability to measure the mechanical properties of breast tissues, which can enable it to distinguish between benign and malignant tissue.

“This system is capable of finding even tiny nodules, also deep in the breast,” said Bart M. ter Haar Romeny, PhD, professor of biomedical image analysis at Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. “The results I have seen were quite impressive. The applied physics of the method are solid and well understood.

“Because it is a tomographic technique, the location of the lesion is known exactly, so it is a natural step to integrate a stereotactically or robot-controlled biopsy system with it.”

Related seminar: Breast Imaging and Digital Mammography

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