To evaluate and compare the values of the elasticity index as measured by shear wave elastography in healthy subjects and in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, in order to establish if this investigation can predict the occurrence of autoimmune thyroid disease.
A total of 104 cases were included in the study group: 91 women (87.5 %), out of which 52 (50 %) with autoimmune thyroid disease diagnosed by specific tests and 52 (50 %) healthy volunteers, matched for age and gender. For all the subjects, three measurements were performed on each thyroid lobe and a mean value was calculated. The data were expressed in kPa. The investigation was performed with an Aixplorer system (SuperSonic Imagine, France), using a linear high-resolution 15-4 MHz transducer.
The mean value for the elasticity index was similar in the right and the left thyroid lobes, both in normal subjects and in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease: 19.6 ± 6.6 vs. 19.5 ± 6.8 kPa, p = 0.92, and 26.6 ± 10.0 vs. 25.8 ± 11.7 kPa, p = 0.71, respectively. This parameter was significantly higher in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease than in controls (p < 0.001). For a cut-off value of 22.3 kPa, which resulted in the highest sum of sensitivity and specificity, the elasticity index assessed by shear wave elastography had a sensitivity of 59.6 % and a specificity of 76.9 % (AUROC = 0.71; p < 0.001) for predicting the presence of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Quantitative elasticity index measured by shear wave elastography was significantly higher in autoimmune thyroid disease than in normal thyroid parenchyma and may predict the presence of autoimmune thyroid disease.