Breast Lesion Elastography Region of Interest Selection and Quantitative Heterogeneity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Research paper by Molly A.B. Blank, James F. Antaki

Indexed on: 15 Oct '16Published on: 14 Oct '16Published in: Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology


In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we report measured elasticities of benign and malignant breast pathologies from shear wave elastography (SWE), quantitatively confirm the effect of the selected region of interest (ROI) on these measures and test the hypothesis that a metric of heterogeneity based on the mean and maximum elasticity can improve specificity of diagnosis. The elasticities of benign, malignant and specific pathologic states are reported from 22 publications encompassing 2989 patients, identified from a structured search of the literature from May to September 2015. Twelve articles were included in a meta-analysis that grouped results by the method of ROI selection to discriminate between different pathologies. We observe a significant correlation between the method of selection of ROI for malignant mean (p < 0.001) and maximum (p = 0.027) elasticities, but no correlation with benign measures. We define a quantitative heterogeneity parameter, the “stiffness gradient,” computed from the mean and maximum measured elasticities. The stiffness gradient out-performed the current standard maximum elasticity metric in stratifying malignancy risk by a margin of 15% for the partial ROI, and 42% for the maximized ROI. An anecdotal example of improved differentiation using the stiffness gradient on pathology-specific lesions is also provided. These results quantitatively indicate that the method of ROI selection in SWE not only has a significant impact on the resulting mean reported elasticity of a lesion, but may provide some insight into lesion heterogeneity. Our results suggest that further exploration of quantitative heterogeneity is warranted to improve the specificity of diagnosis.