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Errors and mistakes in breast ultrasound diagnostics

Wiesław Jakubowski1, Katarzyna Dobruch‑Sobczak2, Bartosz Migda1

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2012; 12 (50): 286–298

Sonomammography is often the first additional examination performed in the diagnostics of breast diseases. The development of ultrasound imaging techniques, particularly the introduction of high frequency transducers, matrix transducers, harmonic imaging and finally, elastography, influenced the improvement of breast disease diagnostics. Nevertheless, as in each imaging method, there are errors and mistakes resulting from the technical limitations of the method, breast anatomy (fibrous remodeling), insufficient sensitivity and, in particular, specificity. Errors in breast ultrasound diagnostics can be divided into impossible to be avoided and potentially possible to be reduced. In this article the most frequently made errors in ultrasound have been presented, including the ones caused by the presence of artifacts resulting from volumetric averaging in the near and far field, artifacts in cysts or in dilated lactiferous ducts (reverberations, comet tail artifacts, lateral beam artifacts), improper setting of general enhancement or time gain curve or range. Errors dependent on the examiner, resulting in the wrong BIRADS‑usg classification, are divided into negative and positive errors. The sources of these errors have been listed. The methods of minimization of the number of errors made have been discussed, including the ones related to the appropriate examination technique, taking into account data from case history and the use of the greatest possible number of additional options such as: harmonic imaging, color and power Doppler and elastography. In the article examples of errors resulting from the technical conditions of the method have been presented, and those dependent on the examiner which are related to the great diversity and variation of ultrasound images of pathological breast lesions.

breast US, breast diseases, diagnostic errors, artifacts