An enhanced ultrasound scan of the kidney is more accurate than computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in predicting cancer.
A 10-year study presented at an international medical conference in Chicago this week contends that such simpler imaging procedures can thus eliminate the need for unnecessary biopsies and surgeries.
The study examined the potential for contrast-enhanced ultrasound, which applies contrast medium to traditional medical sonography. The contrast agents rely on the different ways in which sound waves are reflected from interfaces between substances. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound uses liquid suspensions of biocompatible microbubbles that are injected into a patient’s arm vein during an ultrasound scan. The microbubbles reflect ultrasound waves as they flow through the body’s microvasculature with red blood cells, and are expelled from the body within minutes.
“Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is a very robust technique with an extremely high predictive value,” says Richard Barr, MD, who presented the findings to members of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society. Barr is a professor of radiology at Northeast Ohio Medical University and is a member of the board of directors of the organization, which seeks to advance the appropriate use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound.
In a subgroup of patients initially believed to have a high probability of malignancy, contrast-enhanced ultrasound found that 78 percent of the tumors were actually not malignant, according to Barr. As a result, those patients were spared invasive biopsies or surgery to remove the tumor.