Ultrasound Essay

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Ultrasound is a key modality in the diagnosis of many tumours arising in soft tissues in the medical discipline of oncology. The following pages will outline some of the key features of malignancies and how they relate to ultrasound and diagnosis of cancer. Included also is a specific examination of ultrasound in the case of an adrenocortical carcinoma, pictured below. Image © Dr. T.S.A. Geertsma Principal Signs & Symptoms of Malignancies: General signs and symptoms suspicious of malignancy which may lead a general practitioner to send a patient for further investigations include: malaise, fatigue, mineral and hormone imbalance, palpable mass, swelling, edema, abdominal or back pain, jaundice, fever, weakness, weight loss, and decreased immunity. Sonographic Criteria for Malignancy: Thieme says with respect to the Sonographic Criteria for malignancy: “Primary organ tumours and metastases appear as circumscribed lesions whose shape and echo pattern are characteristic of tumours. The normal architecture and echo pattern of the affected organ is altered or destroyed” (Thieme, 2007) A study by Mahira Yunus and Zeba Ahmed on solid thyroid nodules used the following criteria for ultrasound images to conclude that the lesion was malignant: complex lesions, presence of calcium deposits, irregular margins, and heterogeneity. The presence of even one of these features flagged the lesion as malignant. The absence of any of these factors led to the conclusion that the lesion was benign. (Yunus et al., 2010) Different characteristics of tumours may point to malignancy in some organs but in other locations may indicate a benign growth. For example, Thieme indicates that “an echopenic halo suggests metastasis in the liver but suggests a... ... middle of paper ... ...into surrounding tissues with the use of ultrasound imaging (Heinz-Peer et al., 2007). Conclusion: . As an aspiring radiation therapist, it is critical to be able to read an ultrasound image especially with respect to treatment planning. It is very important to be able to distinguish the features of a malignant tumour from surrounding normal tissues; to be able to look at an ultrasound image and immediately see the location of a malignant lesion is a lifelong skill. After specifically looking at the role of ultrasound in the diagnosis of cancer of the adrenal gland, one more readily realizes that ultrasound is in some respects invaluable, but in other respects usurped by modalities such as CT and MRI scans. Thus, one must be familiar with all of these different imaging modalities in order to be able to most effectively diagnose, plan and treat a cancer patient.

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