CHICAGOA new ultrasound technology that amasses as much as nine
times more information than conventional ultrasound provides greater
detail in characterizing breast lesions and also allows real-time
tracking of the entire path of the breast biopsy needle, Jacques
Souquet, PhD, senior vice president and chief technology officer at
ATL Ultrasound (Bothell, Washington), said in an interview with ONI.
The new device, called SonoCT Real-Time Compound Imaging, was
introduced to the US market at the 1999 annual meeting of the
Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
The SonoCT gathers images from several viewing angles and then
combines them into a single image in real time, much like other
compound imaging modalities such as computed tomography and magnetic
Because SonoCT combines multiple looks at the same organ or tissue
through various angles, it can reduce noise and artifacts, such as
shadowing and refraction, that degrade conventional real-time
ultrasound images, Dr. Souquet said. It reduces speckle and clutter,
which increase noise and decrease image contrast, and it keeps on
capturing signals even when echo interfaces do not occur at a
90-degree angle, he noted. These advantages improve imaging of normal
and malignant breast tissue.
Because conventional ultrasound looks at the curvilinear breast from
a single vantage point, it may miss important aspects of breast
anatomy, such as microcalcifications, Dr. Souquet said. Conventional
ultrasound does not provide clear delineation of lesion borders or
the content of lesions, he added.
With conventional ultrasound, we know there is a mass in the
breast because it casts a shadow, but we can just barely see the
border of the lesion. There also is so much noise, it is difficult to
characterize the kind of mass youre looking at, Dr.
Souquet said. By having the capability of looking at the same
pathology from various directions, SonoCT provides a continuous, well-delineated
border of pathologies and more detail about the structures within a mass.
SonoCT improves the recognition of microlobules or spicules along the
margin of a breast lesion, which signal invasive carcinoma, for
example, he noted.
The SonoCT compounding technology collects images from actual
structures but suppresses those from random echoes or artifacts,
helping to more clearly depict fibroadenomas with their smooth,
well-defined margins and homogeneous internal echoes (see Figure
SonoCT also enhances localization of the biopsy needle during breast
tissue sampling (see Figure 2).
With conventional ultrasound, you can see the start of the
insertion of the biopsy needle in a breast lesion, but then the
signal is lost. With SonoCT, we interrogate the fields through
various cycles and provide better visualization of the needle going
all the way through the nodule during biopsy, Dr. Souquet said.
The SonoCT Real-Time Compound Imaging technology can be added to
ATLs HDI 5000 system as an upgrade for imaging not only breast
tissue but also musculoskeletal soft tissue, the scrotum, thyroid,
and peripheral vasculature, Dr. Souquet said.