Using Speed of Sound Imaging to Characterize Breast Density

Mark Sak, Neb Duric, Peter Littrup, Lisa Bey-Knight, Haythem Ali, Patricia Vallieres, Mark E. Sherman, Gretchen L. Gierach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A population of 165 women with negative mammographic screens also received an ultrasound tomography (UST) examination at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI. Standard statistical techniques were employed to measure the associations between the various mammographic- and UST-related density measures and various participant characteristics such as age, weight and height. The mammographic percent density (MPD) was found to have similar strength associations with UST mean sound speed (Spearman coefficient, rs = 0.722, p < 0.001) and UST median sound speed (rs = 0.737, p < 0.001). Both were stronger than the associations between MPD with two separate measures of UST percent density, a k-means (rs = 0.568, p < 0.001) or a threshold (rs = 0.715, p < 0.001) measure. Segmentation of the UST sound speed images into dense and non-dense volumes showed weak to moderate associations with the mammographically equivalent measures. Relationships were found to be inversely and weakly associated between age and the UST mean sound speed (rs = −0.239, p = 0.002), UST median sound speed (rs = −0.226, p = 0.004) and MPD (rs = −0.204, p = 0.008). Relationships were found to be inversely and moderately associated between body mass index (BMI) and the UST mean sound speed (rs = −0.429, p < 0.001), UST median sound speed (rs = −0.447, p < 0.001) and MPD (rs = −0.489, p < 0.001). The results confirm and strengthen findings presented in previous work indicating that UST sound speed imaging yields viable markers of breast density in a manner consistent with mammography, the current clinical standard. These results lay the groundwork for further studies to assess the role of sound speed imaging in risk prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-103
Number of pages13
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Breast Cancer
  • Breast density
  • Dense and non-dense breast volumes
  • Mammography
  • Risk assessment
  • Sound speed
  • Ultrasound tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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