Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 376–385 | Cite as

Superficial ultrasound shear wave speed measurements in soft and hard elasticity phantoms: repeatability and reproducibility using two ultrasound systems

  • Jonathan R. DillmanEmail author
  • Shigao Chen
  • Matthew S. Davenport
  • Heng Zhao
  • Matthew W. Urban
  • Pengfei Song
  • Kuanwong Watcharotone
  • Paul L. Carson
Original Article



There is a paucity of data available regarding the repeatability and reproducibility of superficial shear wave speed (SWS) measurements at imaging depths relevant to the pediatric population.


To assess the repeatability and reproducibility of superficial shear wave speed measurements acquired from elasticity phantoms at varying imaging depths using three imaging methods, two US systems and multiple operators.

Materials and methods

Soft and hard elasticity phantoms manufactured by Computerized Imaging Reference Systems Inc. (Norfolk, VA) were utilized for our investigation. Institution No. 1 used an Acuson S3000 US system (Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Malvern, PA) and three shear wave imaging method/transducer combinations, while institution No. 2 used an Aixplorer US system (SuperSonic Imagine, Bothell, WA) and two different transducers. Ten stiffness measurements were acquired from each phantom at three depths (1.0 cm, 2.5 cm and 4.0 cm) by four operators at each institution. Student’s t-test was used to compare SWS measurements between imaging techniques, while SWS measurement agreement was assessed with two-way random effects single-measure intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) and coefficients of variation. Mixed model regression analysis determined the effect of predictor variables on SWS measurements.


For the soft phantom, the average of mean SWS measurements across the various imaging methods and depths was 0.84 ± 0.04 m/s (mean ± standard deviation) for the Acuson S3000 system and 0.90 ± 0.02 m/s for the Aixplorer system (P = 0.003). For the hard phantom, the average of mean SWS measurements across the various imaging methods and depths was 2.14 ± 0.08 m/s for the Acuson S3000 system and 2.07 ± 0.03 m/s Aixplorer system (P > 0.05). The coefficients of variation were low (0.5–6.8%), and interoperator agreement was near-perfect (ICCs ≥ 0.99). Shear wave imaging method and imaging depth significantly affected measured SWS (P < 0.0001).


Superficial shear wave speed measurements in elasticity phantoms demonstrate minimal variability across imaging method/transducer combinations, imaging depths and operators. The exact clinical significance of this variation is uncertain and may change according to organ and specific disease state.


Shear wave elastography Acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) Shear wave speed Elasticity phantom Reproducibility Repeatability Measurement Ultrasound 



This work is an extension of a study performed by the Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance (QIBA) of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) that is directed toward unifying the quantification of shear wave speed and tissue elastic modulus across different US and MRI platforms [13]. The elasticity phantoms used in this study were manufactured and donated by Computerized Imaging Reference Systems Inc. (Norfolk, VA) for the QIBA study through the efforts of Ted Lynch, PhD.

This investigation was supported in part by grants numbered 2UL1TR000433 and DK082408 of the National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

We would also like to acknowledge Mr. Eric D. Larson and Dr. Xiaofang Lu, of the University of Michigan, for assistance obtaining the US shear wave speed measurements used in this investigation.

Conflicts of interest

An ultrasound imaging system used in this study was provided to Dr. Dillman by Siemens Medical Solutions USA for a separate investigator-initiated investigation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan R. Dillman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shigao Chen
    • 2
  • Matthew S. Davenport
    • 3
  • Heng Zhao
    • 2
  • Matthew W. Urban
    • 2
  • Pengfei Song
    • 2
  • Kuanwong Watcharotone
    • 4
  • Paul L. Carson
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Section of Pediatric RadiologyUniversity of Michigan Health System, C. S. Mott Children’s HospitalAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and Biomedical EngineeringMayo College of MedicineRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of Abdominal Imaging, Department of RadiologyUniversity of Michigan Health SystemAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR)University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Division of Basic Radiological Sciences, Department of RadiologyUniversity of Michigan Health SystemAnn ArborUSA

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