Ultrasound elastography quickly identifies malignant thyroid nodules

May 19, 2008

Ultrasound elastography provides an accurate diagnosis for malignant thyroid nodules about eight out of 10 times, according to Italian researchers. Elastography has previously shown promise in the diagnosis of breast and prostate cancers.

Ultrasound elastography provides an accurate diagnosis for malignant thyroid nodules about eight out of 10 times, according to Italian researchers. Elastography has previously shown promise in the diagnosis of breast and prostate cancers.

Dr. Carmela Asteria and colleagues at the Policlinico MultiMedica, IRCCS, in Milan published their research in the May 1 issue of Thyroid. They studied 67 consecutive patients referred to their practice between January and December of 2006.

The researchers examined each patient using B-mode ultrasound, color power Doppler ultrasound, and ultrasound elastography. A total of 86 nodules were identified and tested with fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Those nodules identified as malignant or indeterminate by biopsy were removed in surgery, and histological findings after surgery showed 17 were malignant.

The investigators compared the surgical and biopsy findings with the ultrasound elastography results and found the technique had a positive predictive value of 55.2% and negative predictive value of 98.2%. Sensitivity was 94.1%, and specificity was 81%. It was considered 83.7% accurate.

The researchers concluded that ultrasound elastography is a promising diagnostic tool for quickly and easily identifying malignant thyroid nodules, although they noted a lack of sensitivity for follicular thyroid carcinoma.