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ABUS: The Value of Automated XNUMXD Breast Ultrasound as a Complementary Tool to Mammography

16 Oct, 2023

Every development in the field of breast cancer diagnosis is for the benefit of millions of women, for the reduction of morbidity, deaths and also for the benefit of health systems worldwide. 


Breast cancer is the most common malignancy that occurs in women in Europe, with approximately 500 new cases annually. In our country, according to the data of the National Cancer Foundation, in 2022, 4.500 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed and 1.600 women died from the disease.
These data show how important preventive examinations are for women's health.

"One of the risk factors for the development of the disease is the dense composition of the breasts," he points out, speaking to Greek News FL η Dr. Athina Vourtsi, Specialist Breast Radiologist and Founding President of the Hellenic Breast Imaging Society, and explains:
"According to studies, women with dense breasts have a 3- to 6-fold increased risk of developing breast cancer, while the detection of the tumor on mammography is extremely difficult. For many years, we have been using ultrasound as a complementary tool to mammography. Over the years, however, we found that ultimately, although it is a very important tool, it is not always so objective because the result of the examination depends a lot on the experience of the radiologist who performs the examination. Otherwise, the examination of the ultrasound image will be performed by a specialized radiologist who has been involved with the subject for many years, and completely differently by a general radiologist with an occupation in general radiology and with fewer years of experience."

What 3-D Automated Breast Ultrasound excels at

A new diagnostic tool in the context of screening, the Automated Ultrasound (Automated Breast UltraSound – ABUS) by GE Healthcare, constitutes an excellent diagnostic option, since it comes to contribute to the detection of the disease accurately in the cases of women with dense breasts. This additional examination significantly helps the radiologist in the early detection of breast cancer. According to clinical studies, when using ABUS in combination with digital mammography, there is a 55% increase in the probability of detecting invasive types of breast cancer, compared to mammography alone.

Abus 2
ABUS in a 49-year-old woman with a negative mammogram.
Disruption of architecture detected on Automated Ultrasound (indicated in green)

"In recent years, we have been using the Automated Breast Ultrasound", points out Dr. Athena Vourtsis, and explains its difference from classic ultrasound:
The procedure is carried out by specialized personnel, technologists or nurses, who are trained in the specific technique. The woman lies down and the ABUS - which has almost three times the range of conventional ultrasound machine heads - scans the breast from different angles, then reconstructs the image and displays the entire breast in three-dimensional detail, like a video. We then receive these images on the monitor and the radiologist reads them. Essentially, it's like we're seeing a woman's entire breast on film. This examination gives us a more objective picture than the one we get when a doctor examines the breast with a classic ultrasound, leaving perhaps even a small possibility that a small point in the circumference of the breast may escape and remain ultrasound-uncovered. At the same time, ABUS features artificial intelligence technology, which adds objectivity to the technique. Because also, worldwide, there are not that many radiologists specialized in breast ultrasound (since the doctor himself does not do the ultrasound. In America, for example, they are done by certified technologists). It is one thing for the doctor to read a dynamic exam that is like seeing the breast in front of him and it is quite another to study static images that the technologist will receive. ABUS far excels in these extremely important areas of examination and diagnosis.”

The advantages of Invenia ABUS compared to classic ultrasound

  • The examination is not connected between the operator and the reader, thus allowing more time for the radiologist to study and analyze the images.
  • The three-dimensional visualization of volumetric images (transverse, coronal, sagittal plane).
  • Capturing a large part of the breast in just one image (image width 15,3 cm and maximum depth 5 cm), thus ensuring the entire breast is imaged.
  • Exams are standardized, reproducible, and independent of the operator taking the images.
  • It offers the possibility of studying many exams in population control programs.
  • The virtual [virtual] study of the examination (without the physical presence of the woman).
  • The integration of artificial intelligence.

"Performance of 3D ABUS versus conventional ultrasound in detecting and characterizing breast lesions, according to the BI-RADS classification, in a large series of 1.886 women," published in European Radiology, showed high concordance (99,8%) in BI-RADS assessment between ABUS and classical ultrasound
(see related article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28828640/).

In conclusion, the results of the study highlighted the value of ABUS and underlined its importance as complementary tool to mammography in order to detect cancers that are not visible on mammography, concluded Dr. Athena Vourtsis.


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