3D whole-breast ultrasonography (US) has become a popular subject of research and an important screening technique in recent years. The benefits of 3D whole-breast US over 2D US are operator independence, time efficiency, reproducibility, improved visualization of the breast anatomy, and high resolution for tumor detection. In the traditional 2D US examination, the results of breast cancer detection and diagnosis are highly dependent on the operator. It is possible that some difficult-to-detect tumors will not be identified by an inexperienced operator. The examination times can vary according to the size of the breast and the experience of the operator. Patients usually need to have follow-up examinations, but 2D US cannot provide full-field images for reproducibility.
The 3D whole-breast US examination procedure is usually semiautomatic or automatic. The procedure is simple to use and consistent from operator to operator. Inexperienced operators need but a small amount of time for training, and the time required for examination by different operators is not significantly different. As for reproducibility, 3D whole-breast US can provide full-field images for follow-up examinations, and the reconstructed coronal view can provide potential information of the breast lesion. Due to the benefits of 3D whole-breast US, many 3D whole-breast US machines have been proposed and used in clinical studies. The following section introduces several 3D whole-breast US machines.
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