Improving the distinction between benign and malignant breast lesions: the value of sonographic texture analysis

Ultrason Imaging. 1993 Oct;15(4):267-85. doi: 10.1177/016173469301500401.


To improve the ability of ultrasound to distinguish benign from malignant breast lesions, we used quantitative analysis of ultrasound image texture. Eight cancers, 22 cysts, 28 fibroadenomata, and 22 fibrocystic nodules were studied. The true nature of each lesion was determined by aspiration (for some cysts) or by open biopsy. Analysis of image texture was performed on digitized video output from the ultrasound scanner using fractal analysis and statistical texture analysis methods. The most useful features were those derived from co-occurrence matrices of the images. Using two features together (contrast of a co-occurrence matrix taken in an oblique direction, and correlation of a co-occurrence matrix taken in the horizontal direction), it was possible to exclude 78% of fibroadenomata, 73% of cysts, and 91% of fibrocystic nodules while maintaining 100% sensitivity for cancer. These findings suggest that ultrasonic image texture analysis is a simple way to markedly reduce the number of benign lesion biopsies without missing additional cancers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Diseases / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / pathology
  • Fractals
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography / methods*