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Contrast Ultrasound Detects Prostate Cancers Missed by MRI

Traditional MRI misses some prostate cancers. Contrast-enhanced subharmonic imaging can find them.

By
Mary Bates, Contributor
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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A new technique for imaging microbubble ultrasound contrast agents shows promise in detecting prostate cancers not identified by MRI, according to a study to be presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society 2018 Annual Meeting this month in Washington, D.C.

Conventional imaging techniques do not identify all prostate cancers. However, the effectiveness of ultrasound can be improved by using contrast-enhanced imaging.

The new method, a type of contrast-enhanced imaging called subharmonic imaging, visualizes microbubble ultrasound contrast agents with better signal suppression of background tissues and improved signal-to-background ratio than conventional contrast-enhanced ultrasound.

In the new study, researchers used the technique to evaluate the prostate for detection of cancer in 28 patients. It was the first use of the technique in a living organism. The results showed contrast enhancement in the prostates of all 28 patients. The technique produced images with improved contrast signal and tissue suppression relative to conventional harmonic imaging.

The researchers also found that contrast-enhanced subharmonic imaging improved the detection of the increased vascularity that is associated with prostate cancer. Focal areas of contrast enhancement corresponded to cancer sites in 18 percent of targeted biopsies, including five patients whose cancer was not detected by MRI.

The results of the test indicate that contrast-enhanced subharmonic imaging provides improved contrast enhancement and may be an effective tool for identifying cases of prostate cancer, especially those that are missed by traditional MRI.