Ultrasound More Accurate for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Ultrasound More Accurate for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Ultrasound may be a more accurate and cheaper option than CT scans for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

A group of Italian researchers examined the use of ultrasound to help diagnose malignant pleural mesothelioma. The goal was to help doctors locate optimal sites for biopsies.

Diagnosing Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops from mesothelium cells. The mesothelium is the lining that covers many of our internal organs. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a toxic substance used in industrial and consumer products.

When mesothelioma develops in the lining of our lungs, it is called malignant pleural mesothelioma. It can take around 40 years for malignant pleural mesothelioma to develop after asbestos exposure.

Diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma can be hard for doctors. It usually requires an initial imaging scan that is confirmed with a tissue biopsy.

A good imaging scan is crucial to an effective biopsy. The biopsy procedure can be difficult on the patient’s body. It’s important for doctors to know the best place to perform the biopsy to get the best tissue sample.

Usually, doctors will perform a computed tomography scan, or CT scan. While effective, this type of scan can have side effects caused by radiation. It is also expensive.

The researchers in this study wanted to find out if a less-risky ultrasound scan would be helpful in locating safe biopsy sites.

Ultrasound May Be More Accurate than CT Scan

The study included 51 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. These patients had “pleural thickening” in their lungs. This is when the lining of the lungs becomes damaged by scar tissue from the cancer. The scar tissue made it difficult to locate a safe biopsy site.

Each patient was examined with an ultrasound scan. The researchers found that the ultrasound scan was useful for locating the best biopsy site with 94% accuracy. There were no complications and no need for drainage tubes. Patients were able to be sent home on the second postoperative day.

Ultrasound scans can be a useful and safe alternative to CT scans for diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma. This can make it easier for doctors to make a quick diagnosis and start life-saving treatment earlier in the disease progression.


Messina G, Bove M, Natale G, et al. Diagnosis of malignant pleural disease: Ultrasound as “a detective probe” [published online ahead of print, 2022 Nov 22]. Thorac Cancer. 2022;10.1111/1759-7714.14735. doi:10.1111/1759-7714.14735

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