by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 04, 2012
Interpreting automated breast ultrasounds (ABUS) can be done in three minutes or less, according to a new study, meaning doctors might need to spend less time with the technology than with handheld ultrasounds.
"These results suggest that ABUS is a time-efficient tool that can be effectively integrated into the workflow of a busy clinical practice," write the authors, led by Dr. Rachel Brem, in the abstract presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in Vancouver this week.
Research is ongoing to see if women with mammographically dense breasts would benefit from receiving supplemental ultrasound or MRI scans in addition to X-ray screening, as their breast density can make it harder for radiologists to spot lesions on their mammograms.
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A practical problem is that handheld ultrasound scans require physician involvement and can take up to 20 minutes to perform. However, technology called automated breast ultrasound is under investigation as an adjunct screening tool, and can be operated by nonphysician personnel. In fact, a few weeks ago, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approving U-Systems' ABUS device, already cleared for diagnostic purposes, as a screening tool. If approved, it would be the first ultrasound device approved for screening in the United States, according to U-Systems.
The current study, conducted at George Washington University Medical School in Washington D.C., looked at interpreting times for three radiologists, each of whom had at least two years' experience with ABUS. The radiologists analyzed 75 sequential ABUS exams. Timing began when images were displayed on the workstation, and ended when the doctor generated the signed report, the abstract said.
Reading times for the radiologists averaged 2.9 minutes. For the three radiologists individually, the averages were 2.5 minutes, 2.3 minutes and 3.9 minutes, according to the abstract.
"When the Food and Drug Administration clears automated breast ultrasound for screening, I'm confident we will see a rapid integration of this approach into practice to improve cancer detection in women with dense breasts," Brem said in a statement.
Brem's research wasn't the only automated ultrasound news coming from the conference. In a separate study run in Thailand by Dr. Wilaiporn Bhothisuwan on a similar technology, automated breast volume sonography, the researchers said ABVS stacked up well against handheld ultrasound scans for accuracy.
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