Wednesday Bits and Bytes: Ultrasound Can Reduce Breast Biopsies

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Research presented today at RSNA indicates that the use of targeted breast ultrasound can reduce biopsies in women under the age of 40. Two studies used targeted ultrasound to distinguish between potentially cancerous masses and benign findings in young women who had detected lumps in their breasts. The incidence of malignancy ranged from just 0.4% to 2%. “It is time we used ultrasound to reduce unnecessary morbidity and costs associated with more aggressive invasive approaches,” said the lead author of one of the studies.

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A scientific paper presented yesterday indicates that new CCTA protocols can reduce radiation dose while maintaining accuracy. In a multicenter study, three different dose-reduction strategies were tested; when all three were combined, the average effective dose dropped from 3.8 mSv to 1.3 mSv without any loss in the ability to visualize and diagnose coronary segments. Methods for dose reduction included – you guessed it – the use of iterative reconstruction techniques.

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If you’ve ever slipped a disc, you know that the resulting back pain can be excruciating. Now fresh research indicates that an interventional procedure called percutaneous disc decompression can keep patients pain-free for up to two years. The minimally invasive technique uses image guidance to puncture a bulging disc with a needle, then deflate it by either removing tissue or using energy to dissolve it. “Most protocols call for a minimal approach to initially treat a herniated disc,” said the study’s lead author. “But by deflating the disc and giving the nerve root the space it needs, disc decompression solves the problem of root irritation and prevails in the long run.”

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The results of a large-scale clinical trial presented today indicate that annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI could be beneficial to high-risk women with dense breasts. The study represents the first strong evidence that the two techniques can help detect cancers mammography might miss in women with dense breast tissue. However, both techniques do increase the risk of false-positives. “It is important that women are advised of the increased potential of undergoing an unnecessary biopsy as a result of screening with ultrasound or MRI,” said the study’s lead author, “but we hope this study motivates women and their doctors to learn more about their risk factors and to consider supplemental screening in addition to mammography where indicated.”

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Dr. Burton P. Drayer, executive vice-president for Risk at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, has been named RSNA’s president-elect. “In addition to enhancing the effectiveness of RSNA’s preeminent annual meeting, educational programs, research support, scientific journals and information technology activities, I hope to expand our collaborations with other imaging and medical societies both in North America and internationally,” Drayer said.