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. 2020 Feb 10;4(1):12.
doi: 10.1186/s41747-019-0136-z.

Breast Ultrasound: Automated or Hand-Held? Exploring Patients' Experience and Preference

Free PMC article

Breast Ultrasound: Automated or Hand-Held? Exploring Patients' Experience and Preference

Ilaria Mussetto et al. Eur Radiol Exp. .
Free PMC article


Background: Our aim was to compare women's experience with automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) versus breast hand-held ultrasound (HHUS) and to evaluate their acceptance rate.

Methods: After ethical approval, from October 2017 to March 2018, 79 consecutive patients were enrolled in this prospective study. On the same day, patients underwent HHUS followed by ABUS. Each patient's experience was assessed using the modified testing morbidities index (TMI) (the lower the score, the better is the experience). Nine items were assessed for both techniques: seven directly related to the examination technique (pain or discomfort immediately before (preparation), during and after testing, fear or anxiety immediately before (preparation) and during testing, physical and mental function after testing) and two indirectly related to the examination technique (embarrassment during testing and overall satisfaction). Finally, we asked patients to choose between the two techniques for a potential next breast examination. Wilcoxon signed ranks test was used.

Results: The median TMI score for the seven items was found to be significantly better for HHUS (8, interquartile range [IQR] 7-11) compared to ABUS (9, IQR 8-12) (p = 0.003). The item 'pain/discomfort during the test' (p < 0.001) was significantly higher for ABUS compared to HHUS. Instead, the item 'fear/anxiety before the test' was higher for HHUS (p = 0.001). Overall, 40.5% of the patients chose HHUS, 29.1% chose ABUS, and 30.4% were unable to choose.

Conclusions: ABUS and HHUS exams were well tolerated and accepted. However, HHUS was perceived to be less painful than ABUS.

Keywords: Anxiety; Fear; Pain; Personal satisfaction; Ultrasonography (mammary).

Conflict of interest statement

Two authors (SS, MC) are on the speaker’s bureau for General Electric Healthcare (Paris, France).


Fig 1
Fig 1
Figure shows the total score for each attribute evaluated both for hand-held ultrasound (HHUS) and automated breast ultrasound (ABUS): (a) pain or discomfort immediately before the test, (b) pain or discomfort during the test, (c) pain or discomfort after the test, (d) fear or anxiety immediately before the test, (e) fear or anxiety during the test, (f) physical function after testing, (g) mental function after testing, (h) embarrassment during the test, and (i) overall satisfaction

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