Three-dimensional quantitative ultrasound for detecting lymph node metastases

Emi Saegusa-Beecroft, Junji Machi, Jonathan Mamou, Masaki Hata, Alain Coron, Eugene T. Yanagihara, Tadashi Yamaguchi, Michael L. Oelze, Pascal Laugier, Ernest J. Feleppa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Detection of metastases in lymph nodes (LNs) is critical for cancer management. Conventional histological methods may miss metastatic foci. To date, no practical means of evaluating the entire LN volume exists. The aim of this study was to develop fast, reliable, operator-independent, high-frequency, quantitative ultrasound (QUS) methods for evaluating LNs over their entire volume to effectively detect LN metastases. Methods: We scanned freshly excised LNs at 26 MHz and digitally acquired echo-signal data over the entire three-dimensional (3D) volume. A total of 146 LNs of colorectal, 26 LNs of gastric, and 118 LNs of breast cancer patients were enrolled. We step-sectioned LNs at 50-μm intervals and later compared them with 13 QUS estimates associated with tissue microstructure. Linear-discriminant analysis classified LNs as metastatic or nonmetastatic, and we computed areas (Az) under receiver-operator characteristic curves to assess classification performance. The QUS estimates and cancer probability values derived from discriminant analysis were depicted in 3D images for comparison with 3D histology. Results: Of 146 LNs of colorectal cancer patients, 23 were metastatic; Az = 0.952 ± 0.021 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.911-0.993); sensitivity = 91.3% (specificity = 87.0%); and sensitivity = 100% (specificity = 67.5%). Of 26 LNs of gastric cancer patients, five were metastatic; Az = 0.962 ± 0.039 (95% CI: 0.807-1.000); sensitivity = 100% (specificity = 95.3%). A total of 17 of 118 LNs of breast cancer patients were metastatic; Az = 0.833 ± 0.047 (95% CI: 0.741-0.926); sensitivity = 88.2% (specificity = 62.5%); sensitivity = 100% (specificity = 50.5%). 3D cancer probability images showed good correlation with 3D histology. Conclusions: These results suggest that operator- and system-independent QUS methods allow reliable entire-volume LN evaluation for detecting metastases. 3D cancer probability images can help pathologists identify metastatic foci that could be missed using conventional methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-269
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • High-frequency ultrasound
  • Lymph node metastases
  • Lymph node micrometastases
  • Prospective cohort study
  • Step-sectioning histology
  • Three-dimensional quantitative ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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