Elastography is a method of noninvasive assessment of tissue density and elasticity using ultrasound examination equipment equipped with a special sensor. Allows you to determine the stiffness of tissues with minimal pressure exerted on a specific area. Elastography has found wide application in the diagnosis of oncological diseases. The technique is used to identify inflammatory processes and traumatic injuries. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, complements the standard ultrasound. For some types of examination, minimal preparation is required.

Preparation

Elastography does not require special training. To obtain more accurate diagnostic information during the examination of the abdominal cavity and retroperitoneal space, it is recommended to refrain from eating 8-12 hours before the procedure.

What shows

Elastography visualizes tissues and organs, displaying differences in elasticity of normal and pathologically altered zones. The method is based on the assessment of deformation of the studied area under dosed vibration or compression. There are several types of elastography: quasi-static compression, dynamic with mechanical pulse or vibration pressure and with acoustic radiation pressure. Static methods reflect the qualitative characteristics of elasticity/stiffness of tissues. Dynamic elastography makes it possible to quantify this parameter using the Young’s module.

The method of elastography examines lymph nodes, uterus and appendages, mammary glands, scrotum, soft tissues, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands, pancreas and thyroid glands, prostate. For each organ and tissue type, there is a certain coefficient of elasticity (Young’s modulus). Muscle and adipose tissues are the most elastic. Fibrous formations have moderate stiffness, and malignant tumors – pronounced. On the monitor, areas with different stiffness are displayed in different colors. Elastography is used to diagnose pathological changes in tissues, the main of which are:

  • Liver fibrosis. Chronic diffuse diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, are accompanied by liver fibrosis. Methods of dynamic elastography determine a moderate increase in tissue stiffness in viral hepatitis and steatohepatitis, a pronounced increase in cirrhosis.
  • Neoplasms of the thyroid gland. Sonoelastography makes it possible to differentiate malignant and benign thyroid nodules. Adenoma, adenomatous goiter, cysts and functional nodules often have a heterogeneous but elastic structure. The cancerous tumor is characterized by high rigidity (does not change color during compression).
  • Breast tumors. The results of the study are used to differentiate malignant and benign neoplasms of the mammary glands. The color of the lesion, comparable to the color of the surrounding gland tissue, as well as the color change after decompression, indicates good quality. If the tumor does not change color during compression and decompression, then its elasticity is low, the probability of malignancy is high.
  • Prostate diseases. By the nature of the staining of the ultrasound projection, differential diagnosis of prostate diseases is performed. In inflammatory pathologies, the tissue structure is homogeneous, highly elastic. Benign formations, such as prostate adenomas, are characterized by a combination of areas of high and medium elasticity. Cancerous tumors on the color cartogram are colored blue – a sign of high density and rigidity.

The reliability of the diagnosis increases when performing the elastography procedure together with two-dimensional ultrasound scanning. When interpreting the results and making a diagnosis, the data of the clinical picture, laboratory and instrumental studies (MRI, CT) are taken into account.

Advantages

Elastography is a non-invasive procedure, is not associated with the risk of complications and has practically no contraindications. Compared with ultrasound in two-dimensional mode, it provides a higher degree of accuracy in the early and differential diagnosis of tumors. The disadvantages of the method include a decrease in sensitivity with an increase in the depth of the organ location, difficulties in identifying benign neoplasms that have the same elasticity as healthy organ tissues.

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