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[Ultrasound elastography]

R S Goertz
Der Radiologe 2015, 55 (11): 949-55
Noninvasive, ultrasound-based methods for visualizing and measuring tissue elasticity are becoming more and more common in routine practice. Using hepatic shear wave elastography, cut-off levels can help to detect the degree of relevant fibrosis (F ≥ 2) with a diagnostic accuracy using the area under the reader operating characteristic (AUROC) of 87 % and cirrhosis (F = 4, AUROC 93 %). Normal values virtually exclude liver cirrhosis (negative predictive value up to 97 %) and high shear wave velocities predict complications in the course of primary sclerosing cholangitis, liver cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis B or C. Elastography is of no relevant help in the differentiation of the dignity of hepatic lesions. Concerning thyroid or breast lesions, low shear wave velocities are indicative of benign lesions and in contrast, high velocities of malignant lesions. A differentiation between benign and malignant thyroid nodules is performed by elastography with a sensitivity of 89 % and a specificity of 82 %. In breast lesions a differentiation of nodes can be improved with elastography compared to B-mode ultrasound alone with a sensitivity of 97 % and a specificity of 83 %. Invasive biopsy punctures can therefore be specifically performed or can be omitted. Due to several influencing factors, in particular during liver elastography, the measurements need to be interpreted in the clinical context. In summary, ultrasound-based elastography provides helpful information for the detection of hepatic fibrosis and for further characterization of thyroid or breast lesions in addition to classical techniques, such as B-mode imaging and color Doppler.


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