Electrical impedance spectroscopy of the breast: Clinical imaging results in 26 subjects

Todd E. Kerner, Keith D. Paulsen, Alex Hartov, Sandra K. Soho, Steven P. Poplack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

140 Scopus citations


Electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) is a potential, noninvasive technique to image women for breast cancer. Studies have shown characteristic frequency dispersions in the electrical conductivity and permittivity of malignant versus normal tissue. Using a multifrequency EIS system, we imaged the breasts of 26 women. All patients had mammograms ranked using the American College of Radiology (ACR) BIRADS system. Of the 51 individual breasts imaged, 38 were ACR 1 negative, six had ACR 4-5 suspicious lesions, and seven had ACR 2 benign findings such as fibroadenomas or calcifications. A radially translatable circular array of 16 Ag/AgCl electrodes was placed around the breast while the patient lay prone. We applied trigonometric voltage patterns at ten frequencies between 10 and 950 kHz. Anatomically coronal images were reconstructed from this data using nonlinear partial differential equation methods. Typically, ACR 1-rated breasts were interrogated in a single central plane whereas ACR 2-5-rated breasts were imaged in multiple planes covering the region of suspicion. In general, a characteristic homogeneous image emerged for mammographically normal cases while focal inhomogeneities were observed in images from women with malignancies. Using a specific visual criterion, EIS images identified 83% of the ACR 4-5 lesions while 67% were detected using a numerical criterion. Overall, multifrequency electrical impedance imaging appears promising for detecting breast malignancies, but improvements must be made before the method reaches its full potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-645
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast imaging
  • Cancer screening
  • Electrical impedance spectroscopy
  • Impedance imaging

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