Solid breast nodules: use of sonography to distinguish between benign and malignant lesions

Radiology. 1995 Jul;196(1):123-34. doi: 10.1148/radiology.196.1.7784555.


Purpose: To determine whether sonography could help accurately distinguish benign solid breast nodules from indeterminate or malignant nodules and whether this distinction could be definite enough to obviate biopsy.

Materials and methods: Seven hundred fifty sonographically solid breast nodules were prospectively classified as benign, indeterminate, or malignant. Benign nodules had no malignant characteristics and had either intense homogeneous hyperechogenicity or a thin echogenic pseudocapsule with an ellipsoid shape or fewer than four gentle lobulations. Sonographic classifications were compared with biopsy results. The sensitivity, specificity, and negative and positive predictive values of the classifications were calculated.

Results: Benign histologic features were found in 625 (83%) lesions; malignant histologic features, in 125 (17%). Of benign lesions, 424 had been prospectively classified as benign. Two lesions classified as benign were found to be malignant at biopsy. Thus, the classification scheme had a negative predictive value of 99.5%. Of 125 malignant lesions, 123 were correctly classified as indeterminate or malignant (98.4% sensitivity).

Conclusion: Sonography can be used to accurately classify some solid lesions as benign, allowing imaging follow-up rather than biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary*