Breast ultrasound: automated or hand-held? Exploring patients’ experience and preference

Ilaria Mussetto, Licia Gristina, Simone Schiaffino, Simona Tosto, Edoardo Raviola, Massimo Calabrese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Our aim was to compare women’s experience with automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) versus breast hand-held ultrasound (HHUS) and to evaluate their acceptance rate. Methods: After ethical approval, from October 2017 to March 2018, 79 consecutive patients were enrolled in this prospective study. On the same day, patients underwent HHUS followed by ABUS. Each patient’s experience was assessed using the modified testing morbidities index (TMI) (the lower the score, the better is the experience). Nine items were assessed for both techniques: seven directly related to the examination technique (pain or discomfort immediately before (preparation), during and after testing, fear or anxiety immediately before (preparation) and during testing, physical and mental function after testing) and two indirectly related to the examination technique (embarrassment during testing and overall satisfaction). Finally, we asked patients to choose between the two techniques for a potential next breast examination. Wilcoxon signed ranks test was used. Results: The median TMI score for the seven items was found to be significantly better for HHUS (8, interquartile range [IQR] 7–11) compared to ABUS (9, IQR 8–12) (p = 0.003). The item ‘pain/discomfort during the test’ (p < 0.001) was significantly higher for ABUS compared to HHUS. Instead, the item ‘fear/anxiety before the test’ was higher for HHUS (p = 0.001). Overall, 40.5% of the patients chose HHUS, 29.1% chose ABUS, and 30.4% were unable to choose. Conclusions: ABUS and HHUS exams were well tolerated and accepted. However, HHUS was perceived to be less painful than ABUS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalEuropean radiology experimental
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Ultrasonography (mammary)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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