Malignant mesothelioma is often suspected when a person with a known exposure to asbestos starts having symptoms. But doctors cannot simply assume that they are right. The first step to meaningful treatment is confirmation of the diagnosis, and this requires collecting a sample of the tumor’s cells for analysis. The collection procedure is known as a biopsy, and it can be performed without surgery when physicians take advantage of either CT or ultrasound technology to guide the insertion of a needle deep within the body and into the tumor. A recent study compared the two protocols to determine which was best, and concluded that ultrasound is safer, more convenient, and yields just as much high-quality information.
Italian Mesothelioma Researchers Compare CT and Ultrasound
Imaging technology is extremely helpful when tumors suspected of being malignant mesothelioma need to be assessed. Rather than subjecting patients to invasive, painful surgeries, skilled technologists use either CT or ultrasound to provide images that guide physicians in collecting specimens, but there are significant differences in how the procedures are performed. CT scans require patients to lie in scanning machines found in hospitals and specialized centers. They use radiation waves to create three-dimensional images. Ultrasound equipment uses sound waves to create images, and the machines are less bulky and widely available – portable units can even be brought to the patients’ bedsides if needed.
Researchers from the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria in Italy knew that both imaging technologies could be used to guide mesothelioma biopsies, but that CT exposed patients to ionizing radiation and was less accessible. They set out to determine whether opting for ultrasound would result in any loss of diagnostic performance. They conducted a retrospective analysis of 30 previously performed studies on the use of CT or thoracic ultrasound in diagnosing pleural lesions and found that both protocols obtained approximately the same amount of tissue. They also found both were deemed to be safe. But there were differences that led them to conclude that thoracic ultrasound was the better overall choice.
Ultrasound Deemed Superior for Mesothelioma Biopsy
Researchers found that when it comes to biopsying malignant mesothelioma, both CT and ultrasound provide the needed guidance effectively. But ultrasound’s mobility, accessibility, and lack of patient exposure to radiation made it the preferred choice. Lead author Federico Mei wrote, “Data show that CT- and TUS-guided biopsies in the diagnosis of pleural lesions are both excellent procedures, without meaningful differences in DYs and safety. Considering that TUS is non-ionizing and easily performed at the bedside, it should be the preferred approach in presence of adequate skills.”
If you or someone you love is suspected of having malignant mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, quick and accurate diagnosis is essential. For access to top-of-the-line care, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.