Pilot Investigation into the Use of an Anthropomorphic Breast Sonography Phantom as a Training and Assessment Tool

Jacinta E. Browne, Louise M. Cannon, Ronan McDermott, Max Ryan, Andrew J. Fagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A device for the training and quantitative assessment of the competency of trainee radiologists in the technically challenging area of breast sonography was developed and evaluated. Currently, suitable commercially available devices are lacking, and there is a growing realization that the reliance on direct exposure to patients for learning may not represent best practice from either the trainees’ or patients’ perspective. Three devices (PI, PII and PIII) were designed to produce very realistic sonographic images of breast morphology with a range of embedded pathologies. The pilot evaluation used a case study research design to evaluate the role of the anthropomorphic breast sonography training device in training and assessment in a clinical environment. Through the case study, it was possible to evaluate the process and relationships when using this type of training intervention for a small group of radiology resident trainees. The investigation involved a baseline assessment of trainees’ (n = 4) ability to detect and characterize all lesions in PI, followed by a 4-wk training period on PII and a post-training assessment using PIII. The evaluation revealed an improvement of 30% ± 8% in the trainee's performance from pre- to post-training. It was expected that the performance of the trainees would improve as the training phantom described in this study aligns with the learning theory of constructivism and fits the ideal specifications of a medical training device in terms of its realism and facilitation of self-directed learning and deliberate practice of the trainees. The device provides a useful platform upon which training and assessment can be facilitated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2733-2740
Number of pages8
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Anthropomorphic training phantom
  • Breast sonography
  • Breast tissue-mimicking materials
  • Clinical competency
  • Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Pilot Investigation into the Use of an Anthropomorphic Breast Sonography Phantom as a Training and Assessment Tool'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this