Clinical Value of Real Time Elastography in Patients with Unexplained Cervical Lymphadenopathy: Quantitative Evaluation


Ultrasonography is non-invasive and can give useful clues in the diagnosis of cervical lymphadenopathy, However, differential diagnosis is difficult in some situations even combined with color Doppler imaging. The present study was conducted to evaluate the clinical value of real time elastography in patients with unexplained cervical lymphadenopathy using a quantitative method. From May 2011 to February 2012, 39 enlarged lymph nodes from 39 patients with unexplained cervical lymphadenopathy were assessed. All the patients were examined by both B-mode ultrasound, color Doppler flow imaging and elastography. The method of analyzing elasto-graphic data was the calculation of the 10 parametres (“mean”, “sd”, “area%”, “com”, “kur”, “ske”, “con”, “ent”, “idm”, “asm”) offered by the software integrated into the Hitachi system. The findings were thencorrelated with the definitive tissue diagnosis obtained by lymph node dissection or biopsy. Final histology revealed 10 cases of metastatic lymph nodes, 11 cases of lymphoma, 12 cases of tuberculosis and 6 cases of nonspecific lymphadenitis. The significant distinguishing features for conventional ultrasound were the maximum short diameter (p=0.007) and absent of echogenic hilum (p=0.0293). The diagnostic accuracy was 43.6% (17/39 cases) and there were 17 patients with equivocal diagnosis. For elastography, “mean” (p=0.003), “area%” (p=0.009),“kurt” (p=0.0291), “skew” (p=0.014) and “cont” (p=0.012) demonstrated significant differences between groups. With 9 of the 17 patients with previous equivocal diagnoses (52.9%) definite and correct diagnoses could be obtained. The diagnostic accuracy for conventional ultrasound combined elastography was 69.2% (27/39 cases). There were differences in the diagnostic sensitivity of the two methods (p=0.0224). Ultrasound combined with elastography demonstrated higher rates of conclusive and accurate diagnoses in patients with unexplainedcervical lymphadenopathy than conventional ultrasound. The quantitative program showed good correlation with the pathology of different lymph node diseases.