Q-Elastosonography of Solid Thyroid Nodules: Assessment of Diagnostic Efficacy and Interobserver Variability in a Large Patient Cohort
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Evaluation of the diagnostic efficacy and interobserver agreement of Q-elastography in the differentiation of benign from malignant thyroid nodules.
A total of 344 thyroid nodules in 288 patients were examined with grey-scale and colour Doppler ultrasound (CDUS) and Q-elastography by two independent operators. Nodules with hypoechogenicity, poorly defined margins, microcalcifications, and intralesional vascularity were classified as suspicious. Diagnostic performances of CDUS features and Q-elastography for predicting thyroid malignancy were estimated using ROC analysis. Cytology or histopathology was the reference standard. Interobserver agreement in the evaluation of CDUS and Q-elastography was assessed using Cohen's k-statistic.
Q-elastography showed excellent diagnostic performance for the prediction of thyroid malignancy, with sensitivity of 93 % and specificity of 92 % for operator 1 (best cutoff at 2.02), and sensitivity of 84 % and specificity of 79 % for operator 2 (best cutoff at 1.86). Performance of Q-elastography was superior to that of CDUS. Reproducibility of the findings was excellent for both Q-elastography and CDUS features as assessed with Cohen's k, which was highest for strain ratio measurements (0.95) and lowest for the echogenicity score (0.83).
Q-elastography showed excellent performance. It is a valid and reproducible diagnostic method as well as a promising tool for identifying suspicious solid thyroid nodules needing cytological assessment and surgery.
• Elastography is an additional tool for optimal characterisation of malignant thyroid nodules.
• The use of semiquantitative elastographic evaluation increases the diagnostic performance,
• The interobserver agreement of quantitative elastography can be considered to be good.
KeywordsThyroid nodules Ultrasound Elastography Interobserver variability
The authors would like to thank Dr. Corrado De Vito for his evaluable contribution to the statistical elaboration of our results.
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