Hungarian Radiology

[Cervical space occupying lesions: diagnosis at sonoelastography]


DECEMBER 21, 2009

Hungarian Radiology - 2009;83(04)

[Among cervical (neck) region tumours, the thyroid lesions and the metastatic lymph nodes are the most detectable with conventional B-mode ultrasonography (US). The use of MRI and CT scans are limited because of the cost, and in case of CT, the radiation. With the introduction and constant development of sonoelastography, we have in our hands a new imaging procedure which is cheap, fast and harmless, yet giving more information to the examiner than conventional US. The elastographic examination of thyroid lesions is a more explored area than the elastographic visualisation of cervical lymph nodes. The ‘off-line’ elastography showed the highest accuracy allowing to calculate and analyse the strain index of cervical lymph nodes - strain index > 1.5 (85% sensitivity, 98% specificity) - but the ‘off-line’ processing of US elastograms is still too time consuming to be used in busy clinical settings. During the examinations of the thyroid gland both real-time and off-line processed strain imaging were used. An Italian team made a great leap forward as they standardized the degree of distorsion under the application of the external force. Then using the Ueno and Itoh elasticity score they achieved remarkable accuracy with real-time sonoelastography (P <0.0001). On the other hand only those organs are suitable for the US elastography characterization which can be slightly compressed, consequently the examination of a lesion with calcified shell cannot give useful information. Near to the pulsating arteries substantial amounts of decorrelation noise may appear and the examiner has to pay attention what structures are in the ROI box since the sonoelastography method assumes computations relative to the average strain inside the box. To detect a follicular carcinoma in the thyroid gland remains a big challenge. Despite of the limitations most researchers agree on the fact that sonoelastography is a perfect tool to use in addition to the conventional US examination. B-mode US combined with sonoelastography raised the accuracy in differentiation in all cases. With this modality it is also possible to deduce the number of cases when healthy lymph nodes or tissue peaces are taken for biopsy during FNAB.]



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