Original Investigation| Volume 29, SUPPLEMENT 1, S26-S34, January 2022

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The Utility of the Fifth Edition of the BI-RADS Ultrasound Lexicon in Category 4 Breast Lesions: A Prospective Multicenter Study in China

Published:August 04, 2020DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      The objective of this study was to evaluate the utility of the fifth edition of the Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) in clinical breast radiology by using prospective multicenter real-time analyses of ultrasound (US) images.

      Materials and Methods

      We prospectively studied 2049 female patients (age range, 19-86 years; mean age 46.88 years) with BI-RADS category 4 breast masses in 32 tertiary hospitals. All the patients underwent B-mode, color Doppler US, and US elastography examination. US features of the mass and associated features were described and categorized according to the fifth edition of the BI-RADS US lexicon. The pathological results were used as the reference standard. The positive predictive values (PPVs) of subcategories 4a-4c were calculated.


      A total of 2094 masses were obtained, including 1124 benign masses (54.9%) and 925 malignant masses (45.1%). For BI-RADS US features of mass shape, orientation, margin, posterior features, calcifications, architectural distortion, edema, skin changes, vascularity, and elasticity assessment were significantly different for benign and malignant masses (p< 0.05). Typical signs of malignancy were irregular shape (PPV, 57.2%), spiculated margin (PPV, 83.7%), nonparallel orientation (PPV, 63.9%), and combined pattern of posterior features (PPV, 60.6%). For the changed or newly added US features, the PPVs for intraductal calcifications were 80%, 56.4% for internal vascularity, and 80% for a hard pattern on elastography. The associated features such as architectural distortion (PPV, 89.3%), edema (PPV, 69.2%), and skin changes (PPV, 76.2%) displayed high predictive value for malignancy. The rate of malignant was 7.4% (72/975) in category 4a, 61.4% (283/461) in category 4b, and 93.0% (570/613) in category 4c. The PPV for category 4b was higher than the likelihood ranges specified in BI-RADS and the PPVs for categories 4a and 4c were within the acceptable performance ranges specified in the fifth edition of BI-RADS in our study.


      Not only the US features of the breast mass, but also associated features, including vascularity and elasticity assessment, have become an indispensable part of the fifth edition of BI-RADS US lexicon to distinguish benign and malignant breast lesions. The subdivision of category 4 lesions into categories 4a, 4b, and 4c for US findings is helpful for further assessment of the likelihood of malignancy of breast lesions.

      Key Words


      BI-RADS (Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System), ACR (American College of Radiology), US (ultrasound), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), PPV (positive predictive value), ROC (receiver operating characteristic), AUC (the area under the curve)
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