[Analysis of vascularity in breast tumors--comparison of high frequency ultrasound and contrast-enhanced color harmonic imaging].
PURPOSE: To compare the ability of standard power Doppler and color harmonic imaging for visualising breast tumor vascularity using ultrasound probes of various frequencies, and to evaluate the influence on diagnostic accuracy using ultrasound contrast agent. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty patients (x = 43.6 +/- 11.7 years) with suspected malignancy of the breast underwent power Doppler to evaluate vascularity and to offer a differential diagnosis of the lesion. Two criteria were used for differential diagnosis: The quantitative extent of vascularity ("percentage vessel area", PVA) and the qualitative assessment of vascular architecture. The following power Doppler modes were compared in every patient: Plain and enhanced (Levovist(R)) 9 MHz and 12 MHz standard power mode and enhanced 9 MHz color harmonic imaging-(CHI). RESULTS: The PVA increased from a mean of 2.2 +/- 2.9 % (9 MHz standard plain) via 4.8 +/- 4.1 % (12 MHz standard plain), 9.7 +/- 15.3 % (9 MHz standard enhanced), 17.4 +/- 20.0 % (9 MHz CHI enhanced) up to 19.4 +/- 14.8 % (12 MHz standard enhanced). The perceptibility of the vascular structure was best using the enhanced 12 MHz standard power mode, immediately followed by the enhanced 9 MHz CHI mode. The improved detection of vascular signal did not translate into improved diagnostic accuracy. The highest diagnostic accuracy (95 %) was obtained using the enhanced 9 MHz CHI mode (criterion "PVA") and the enhanced 9 MHz standard power mode (criterion "vascular structure"), whereas the 12 MHz probes delivered insufficient diagnostic accuracy and very low specificity. CONCLUSION: Best quantitative and qualitative visualisation of the tumor vascularity was achieved using the enhanced 12 MHz standard power mode. Nevertheless, the highest diagnostic accuracy was obtained using enhanced 9 MHz standard power Doppler and enhanced 9 MHz color harmonic imaging. The visualisation of tumor vascularity and, partially, the diagnostic accuracy are improved significantly by color harmonic imaging without changing the probe frequently.