Hungarian Radiology

[Differential diagnosis of malignant cervical lymph nodes with real-time ultrasonographic elastography and Doppler ultrasonography]

ARDA Kemal1, CILEDAG Nazan1, GUMUSDAG Demir Pelin1

OCTOBER 15, 2010

Hungarian Radiology - 2010;84(03)

[PURPOSE - Real-time ultrasonographic elastography is a new imaging technique which is used in characterizing the difference in hardness between pathologic and normal tissue. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of real-time ultrasonographic elastography and Doppler ultrasonography (DUS) individually and combined in differentiation of benign and malignant cervical lymph nodes (LN). PATIENTS AND METHODS - Fifty-one patients (12 men, 39 women) referred for fine-needle aspiration or surgical biopsies of suspected cervical lymph nodes were examined with gray scale ultrasonography, power DUS, and realtime ultrasonographic elastography. During DUS examination vascularity and resistance index (RI) values were evaluated. A five-group elastographic colour code pattern was used to evaluate the ultrasonographic elastograms for LN (pattern 1, an absent or a very small hard area; pattern 2, hard area <45%; pattern 3, hard area ≥45%; pattern 4, peripheral hard and central soft areas; pattern 5, hard area occupying entire solid component with or without soft rim). In addition, strains of LN and surrounding muscles were measured on elastograms, and the muscle-to-LN ratio (strain index) was calculated. Real-time ultrasonographic elastography and DUS results were compared with the final diagnosis obtained by fine-needle aspiration cytology analysis and/or by surgical pathology. The diagnostic potential of the examined criteria for malignancy was evaluated with univariate analysis and multivariate generalized estimating equation regression p≤0.05 indicated statistical significance. RESULTS - A strain index higher than 2.45 and colour pattern 4-5 had high utility in malignant LN classification with 93.8% sensitivity, 89.5% specificity (p<0.001). The results were significantly better than those obtained by using DUS characterization - that is, RI greater than 0.57 - which had 78.9% sensitivity (p<0.001). CONCLUSION - Real-time ultrasonographic elastography had 93.8% sensitivity and 89.5% specificity in the differentiation of benign and malignant cervical LN in patients referred for fine-needle aspiration or surgical biopsies with suspicion of malignancy. Real-time ultrasonographic elastography and DUS in addition to gray scale ultrasonography may improve the differential diagnosis of LN.]


  1. Ankara Oncology Hospital, Department of Radiology, Demetevler, Ankara



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