, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 393-404

Viscoelastic Imaging of Breast Tumor Microenvironment With Ultrasound

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Imaging systems are most effective for detection and classification when they exploit contrast mechanisms specific to particular disease processes. A common example is mammography, where the contrast depends on local changes in cell density and the presence of microcalcifications. Unfortunately the specificity for classifying malignant breast disease is relatively low for many current diagnostic techniques. This paper describes a new ultrasonic technique for imaging the viscoelastic properties of breast tissue. The mechanical properties of glandular breast tissue, like most biopolymers, react to mechanical stimuli in a manner specific to the microenvironment of the tissue. Elastic properties allow noninvasive imaging of desmoplasia while viscous properties describe metabolism-dependent features such as pH. These ultrasonic methods are providing new tools for studying disease mechanisms as well as improving diagnosis.