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New ultrasound imaging technique better detects prostate cancer

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | April 23, 2018
MRI Rad Oncology Ultrasound
May one day replace MR
A team of researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has discovered a way to better diagnose prostate cancer with ultrasound imaging.

“Unfortunately, conventional ultrasound does not do a very good job at finding prostate cancer,” Venkata Masarapu of Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, told HCB News. “Our experience suggests that by using contrast-enhanced imaging, we can improve the ability of ultrasound.”

Masarapu and his team have been working on contrast-enhanced imaging of the prostate with conventional harmonic imaging (HI) for over a decade and have had some success with it. But then a newer technique called subharmonic imaging (SHI) was introduced that provides better contrast signal and tissue suppression than HI.

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They hypothesized that SHI could improve the detection of the vascularity that is associated with prostate cancer. When they tested it, they found out that they were right.

“Some of our recent studies suggest that the diagnostic accuracy of contrast-enhanced ultrasound may be similar to that of MR,” said Masarapu.

The first in-vivo application of SHI found that it may improve the performance of contrast-enhanced ultrasound for detecting prostate cancer. The team demonstrated that it improves conspicuity of microbubble contrast enhancement and spotted cancer in five patients that MR missed.

“If we can match the diagnostic accuracy, and also provide advantages of portability, availability and lower cost, then we believe that ultrasound will supplant MR for evaluation of the prostate,” said Masarapu.

He will present these findings at the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting later this month in Washington, D.C.

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