Elastography for characterization of focal liver lesions: current evidence and future perspectives.

Research paper by Carolina C Martelletti, Angelo A Armandi, Gian P GP Caviglia, Giorgio M GM Saracco, Rinaldo R Pellicano

Indexed on: 18 Jul '20Published on: 18 Jul '20Published in: Minerva gastroenterologica e dietologica


Focal liver lesions (FLLs) are a common finding during routine abdominal ultrasound (US). The differential diagnosis between diverse types of FLLs, especially between benign and malignant ones, is extremely important and can often be particularly challenging. Radiological techniques with contrast administration and/or liver biopsy are mostly necessary for establishing diagnosis, but they have several contraindications or complications. Due to limitations of these tools, there is urgent and still unmet need to develop a first line, non-invasive and simple method to diagnose FLLs. Elastography is an US-based imaging modality that provides information about the physical parameter corresponding to the tissue stiffness and can be considered a virtual biopsy. Several elastographic approaches have been developed, such as transient elastography, strain imaging and share wave imaging, which include point shear wave elastography and 2D shear wave elastography. These tools are already in use for evaluating liver fibrosis and in the assessment of focal lesions in other organs, like breast and thyroid gland. This review aims to assess the current evidence of different techniques based on elastography in the setting of FLLs, in order to evaluate accuracy, limitations and future perspectives. In particular, we focused on two contexts: the ability of discriminating between benign and malignant lesions, especially hepatocellular carcinoma and liver metastasis, and the surveillance after percutaneous therapy. This could have a high clinicalimpact making elastography crucial to identify the appropriate management of FLLs.