Ultrasound‐guided breast biopsy using an adapted automated cone‐based ultrasound scanner: a feasibility study

Medical physics

Anton V. NikolaevLeon de Jong, Patrik Zamecnik, Vincent Groenhuis, Françoise J. Siepel, Stefano Stramigioli, Hendrik H.G. Hansen, Chris L. de Korte


Among available breast biopsy techniques, ultrasound (US)-guided biopsy is preferable because it is relatively inexpensive and provides live imaging feedback. The availability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-3D US image fusion would facilitate US-guided biopsy even for US occult lesions to reduce the need for expensive and time-consuming MRI-guided biopsy. In this paper, we propose a novel Automated Cone-based Breast Ultrasound Scanning and Biopsy System (ACBUS-BS) to scan and biopsy breasts of women in prone position. It is based on a previously developed system, called ACBUS, that facilitates MRI-3D US image fusion imaging of the breast employing a conical container filled with coupling medium.


The purpose of this study was to introduce the ABCUS-BS system and demonstrate its feasibility for biopsy of US occult lesions.


The biopsy procedure with the ACBUS-BS comprises four steps: target localization, positioning, preparation, and biopsy. The biopsy outcome can be impacted by 5 types of errors: due to lesion segmentation, MRI-3D US registration, navigation, lesion tracking during repositioning, and US inaccuracy (due to sound speed difference between the sample and the one used for image reconstruction).

For the quantification, we use a soft custom-made polyvinyl alcohol phantom (PVA) containing eight lesions (three US-occult and five US-visible lesions of 10 mm in diameter) and a commercial breast mimicking phantom with a median stiffness of 7.6 and 28 kPa, respectively. Errors of all types were quantified using the custom-made phantom. The error due to lesion tracking was also quantified with the commercial phantom.

Finally, the technology was validated by biopsying the custom-made phantom and comparing the size of the biopsied material to the original lesion size. The average size of the 10-mm-sized lesions in the biopsy specimen was 7.00 ± 0.92 mm (6.33 ± 1.16 mm for US occult lesions, and 7.40 ± 0.55 mm for US-visible lesions).


For the PVA phantom, the errors due to registration, navigation, lesion tracking during repositioning, and US inaccuracy were 1.33, 0.30, 2.12, and 0.55 mm. The total error was 4.01 mm. For the commercial phantom, the error due to lesion tracking was estimated at 1.10 mm, and the total error was 4.11 mm. Given these results, the system is expected to successfully biopsy lesions larger than 8.22 mm in diameter. Patient studies will have to be carried out to confirm this in vivo.


The ACBUS-BS facilitates US-guided biopsy of lesions detected in pre-MRI and therefore might offer a low-cost alternative to MRI-guided biopsy. We demonstrated the feasibility of the approach by successfully taking biopsies of five US-visible and three US-occult lesions embedded in a soft breast-shaped phantom.

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