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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Role of Strain Elastography and Shear-Wave Elastography in a Multiparametric Clinical Approach to Indeterminate Cytology Thyroid Nodules

Stefano Gay, Simone Schiaffino, Graziana Santamorena, Barbara Massa, Gianluca Ansaldo, Giovanni Turtulici, Massimo Giusti, Thyroid Team at the Policlinico San Martino, Genoa

Endocrine Unit, Policlinico San Martino, Genoa, Italy

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24: MET6273-6279

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.909870

Available online:

Published: 2018-09-08


BACKGROUND: In thyroid nodules with indeterminate cytology, further clinical assessment aimed at ruling out malignancy is often mandatory. Ancillary imaging techniques and genetic mutation analysis can improve the risk stratification of such lesions, thereby facilitating the clinician’s decision to undertaken surgery or simple follow-up. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of shear-wave elastography (SW), strain elastography (ELX 2/1), conventional ultrasound (US), contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), and BRAF V600E mutation analysis in the aforementioned lesions.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We enrolled 81 patients, each with 1 indeterminate-cytology thyroid nodule. Thyroid function, thyroperoxidase antibodies and calcitonin were known in each case. SW, ELX 2/1, US, CEUS, and BRAF mutation analysis were subsequently performed, followed by a second FNAB. If the lesion was not downgraded to benign, surgery was recommended and histological reports collected.
RESULTS: There were 28 nodules (34%) that proved benign on the second FNAB; 38 nodules (47%) underwent surgery (17 benign, 21 malignant), and 15 nodules (19%) refused surgery. The only techniques related to histological outcome were US (AUC=0,766), ELX 2/1 (AUC=0.701), and BRAF analysis (AUC=0.762). ELX 2/1 and SW reports were not correlated with each other (P=0.45). A scoring system taking into account all the variables considered performed better than the single variables alone (AUC=0.831).
CONCLUSIONS: In indeterminate-cytology thyroid lesions, repeating FNAB can avoid unnecessary surgery. ELX 2/1 seems to perform better than SW in distinguishing malignancy; these techniques could, however, be complementary in describing such lesions. A multiparametric approach appears the most accurate in predicting nodule histology.

Keywords: Elasticity Imaging Techniques, Thyroid Nodule, Ultrasonography