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Radiology. 2019 Jul 9:182574. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2019182574. [Epub ahead of print]

US Time-Harmonic Elastography for the Early Detection of Glomerulonephritis.

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From the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, corporate member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Berlin Institute of Health, Department of Radiology (M.G., H.T., S.T.L., J.G., M.L., B.H., I.S., S.R.M.G.), Department of Rheumatology (A.B.), Department of Nephrology (M.D.), Institute of Biometry and Clinical Epidemiology (U.G.), and Institute of Medical Informatics (J.B.), Health, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany; Department of Rheumatology, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany (B.F.H.); and GAMPT, Merseburg, Germany (M.N.T., M.S.).


Background Glomerulonephritis refers to renal diseases characterized by glomerular and tubulointerstitial fibrosis. Multifrequency US time-harmonic elastography enables the noninvasive quantification of tissue elasticity. Purpose To assess the diagnostic performance of US time-harmonic elastography for the early detection of glomerulonephritis. Materials and Methods From August 2016 through May 2017, study participants with biopsy-proven glomerulonephritis were prospectively examined with US time-harmonic elastography. Participants were subdivided according to chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage. All participants underwent elastography of both kidneys to generate full-field-of-view maps of renal shear wave speed (SWS). SWS was determined separately for the whole renal parenchyma, cortex, and medulla and was correlated with quantitative B-mode findings such as renal length and parenchymal thickness. Diagnostic performance of renal elastography was assessed with receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Results Fifty-three participants with glomerulonephritis (mean age ± standard deviation, 49 years ± 14) and 30 healthy volunteers (mean age, 37 years ± 11) were evaluated. Age-adjusted renal SWS was lower in participants with glomerulonephritis than in healthy volunteers in the parenchyma, cortex, and medulla, with mean values of 1.55 m/sec (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.51 m/sec, 1.59 m/sec) and 1.69 m/sec (95% CI: 1.64 m/sec, 1.74 m/sec; P < .001), respectively, in parenchyma, 1.80 m/sec (95% CI: 1.75 m/sec, 1.84 m/sec) and 2.08 m/sec (95% CI: 2.02 m/sec, 2.13 m/sec; P < .001) in cortex, and 1.25 m/sec (95% CI: 1.21 m/sec, 1.29 m/sec) and 1.33 (95% CI: 1.27 m/sec, 1.38 m/sec; P = .03) in medulla. Age-adjusted renal cortex SWS was lower in participants with glomerulonephritis and stage 1 CKD (preserved renal function) than in healthy volunteers (mean, 1.88 [95% CI: 1.81, 1.96] vs 2.08 [95% CI: 2.02, 2.13]; P < .001). In participants with CKD, renal cortex SWS values showed a positive association with estimated glomerular filtration rate (n = 39; r = 0.56; P < .001). Exploratory diagnostic performance of US time-harmonic elastography (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC], 0.89; 95% CI: 0.82, 0.97) outperformed that of B-mode parameters such as parenchymal thickness (AUC, 0.64; 95% CI: 0.51, 0.77; P < .001) and renal length (AUC, 0.55; 95% CI: 0.40, 0.68; P < .001) in identifying glomerulonephritis. Conclusion US time-harmonic elastography depicts abnormal renal stiffness in glomerulonephritis, particularly among patients with early disease and preserved renal function. Advanced chronic kidney disease is associated with further cortical softening. Time-harmonic elastography outperforms B-mode-based size quantification.


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