To prospectively analyse the diagnostic value of semi-quantitative breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) in the work-up of suspicious breast lesions compared with that of mammography (MG), breast ultrasound and MRI of the breast.
Within a 15-month period, 67 patients with 92 breast lesions rated as Category IV or V according to the breast imaging reporting and data system detected with MG and/or ultrasound were included into the study. After the injection of 740–1110 MBq of Technetium-99m (99mTc) SestaMIBI intravenously, scintigrams were obtained in two projections comparable to MG. The BSGI was analysed visually and semi-quantitatively by calculating a relative uptake factor (X). With the exception of two patients with cardiac pacemakers, all patients underwent 3-T breast MRI. Biopsy results were obtained as the reference standard in all patients. Sensitivity, specificity, positive- and negative-predictive values, accuracy and area under the curve were calculated for each modality.
Among the 92 lesions, 67 (72.8%) were malignant. 60 of the 67 cancers of any size were detected by BSGI with an overall sensitivity of 90%, only exceeded by ultrasound with a sensitivity of 99%. The sensitivity of BSGI for lesions <1 cm declined significantly to 60%. Overall specificity of ultrasound was only 20%. Specificity, accuracy and positive-predictive value were the highest for BSGI (56%, 80% and 85%, respectively). X was significantly higher for malignant lesions (mean, 4.27) and differed significantly between ductal types (mean, 4.53) and the other histopathological entities (mean, 3.12).
Semi-quantitative BSGI with calculation of the relative uptake factor (X) can help to characterize breast lesions. BSGI negativity may obviate the need for biopsy of breast lesions >1 cm with low or intermediate prevalence for malignancy.
Advances in knowledge:
Compared with morphological imaging modalities, specificity, positive-predictive value for malignancy and accuracy were the highest for BSGI in our study. BSGI negativity may support the decision not to biopsy in selected lesions with a low or low-to-moderate pre-test probability for malignancy.