Evaluation of thyroid nodules by shear wave elastography: a review of current knowledge

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  • K. Z. Swan
  • V. E. Nielsen, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • S. J. Bonnema, University of Southern Denmark

Purpose: Shear wave elastography (SWE), as a tool for diagnosing thyroid malignancy, has gathered considerable attention during the past decade. Diverging results exist regarding the diagnostic performance of thyroid SWE. Methods: A comprehensive literature review of thyroid SWE was conducted using the terms “Thyroid” and “shear wave elastography” in PubMed. Results: The majority of studies found SWE promising for differentiating malignant and benign thyroid nodules on a group level, whereas results are less convincing on the individual level due to huge overlap in elasticity indices. Further, there is lack of consensus on the optimum outcome reflecting nodule elasticity and the cut-off point predicting thyroid malignancy. While heterogeneity between studies hinders a clinically meaningful meta-analysis, the results are discussed in a clinical perspective with regard to applicability in clinical practice as well as methodological advantages and pitfalls of this technology. Conclusion: Technological as well as biological hindrances seem to exist for SWE to be clinically reliable in assessing benign and malignant thyroid nodules. Structural heterogeneity of thyroid nodules in combination with operator-dependent factors such as pre-compression and selection of scanning plane are likely explanations for these findings. Standardization and consensus on the SWE acquisition process applied in future studies are needed for SWE to be considered a clinically reliable diagnostic tool for detection of thyroid cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Pages (from-to)2043-2056
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE).

    Research areas

  • Diagnosis, Review, Thyroid, Thyroid carcinoma, Thyroid nodules

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