Clinical applicability of shear wave elastography for the evaluation of medial epicondylitis

Jin-Young Bang, Seok Hahn, Jisook Yi, Yun-Jung Lim, Hyun Kyung Jung
European Radiology 2021 February 25

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the ability of shear wave elastography (SWE) in diagnosing medial epicondylitis and to compare the diagnostic performance of SWE with that of grey-scale ultrasound (GSU) and strain elastography (SE).

METHODS: GSU, SE, and SWE were performed on 61 elbows of 54 patients from March 2018 to April 2019. An experienced radiologist evaluated the GSU findings (swelling, cortical irregularity, hypoechogenicity, calcification, and tear), colour Doppler findings (hyperaemia), SE findings (strain ratio [SR]), and SWE findings (stiffness and shear wave velocity [SWV]). Participants were divided in two groups: patients with clinically diagnosed medial epicondylitis and patients without medial elbow pain. Findings from the two groups were compared, and the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated for significant features.

RESULTS: Of the 54 patients, 25 patients with 28 imaged elbows were clinically diagnosed with medial epicondylitis and 29 patients with 33 imaged elbows had no medial elbow pain. Cortical irregularity, hypoechogenicity, calcification, hyperaemia, SR, stiffness, and SWV were significantly different between the two groups. The areas under the ROC curves were 0.838 for hypoechogenicity, 0.948 for SR, 0.999 for stiffness, and 0.999 for SWV. The diagnostic performances of SR, stiffness, and SWV were significantly superior compared to that of hypoechogenicity. However, there were no significant differences among SR, stiffness, and SWV.

CONCLUSIONS: SWE can obtain both stiffness and SWV, which are valuable diagnostic tools in the diagnosis of medial epicondylitis. The diagnostic performance of SWE and SE is similar in detecting medial epicondylitis.

KEY POINTS: • Shear wave elastography providing stiffness and shear wave velocity showed excellent performance in the diagnosis of medial epicondylitis. • There was no significant difference in the ability of SE and SWE for diagnosing medial epicondylitis.

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