Diagnostic potential of real-time elastography (RTE) and shear wave elastography (SWE) to differentiate benign and malignant thyroid nodules: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Background:Real-time elastography (RTE) and shear wave elastography (SWE) are noninvasive and easily available imaging techniques that measure the tissue strain, and it has been reported that the sensitivity and the specificity of elastography were better in differentiating between benign and malignant thyroid nodules than conventional technologies.Methods:Relevant articles were searched in multiple databases; the comparison of elasticity index (EI) was conducted with the Review Manager 5.0. Forest plots of the sensitivity and specificity and SROC curve of RTE and SWE were performed with STATA 10.0 software. In addition, sensitivity analysis and bias analysis of the studies were conducted to examine the quality of articles; and to estimate possible publication bias, funnel plot was used and the Egger test was conducted.Results:Finally 22 articles which eventually satisfied the inclusion criteria were included in this study. After eliminating the inefficient, benign and malignant nodules were 2106 and 613, respectively. The meta-analysis suggested that the difference of EI between benign and malignant nodules was statistically significant (SMD = 2.11, 95% CI [1.67, 2.55], P < .00001). The overall sensitivities of RTE and SWE were roughly comparable, whereas the difference of specificities between these 2 methods was statistically significant. In addition, statistically significant difference of AUC between RTE and SWE was observed between RTE and SWE (P < .01).Conclusion:The specificity of RTE was statistically higher than that of SWE; which suggests that compared with SWE, RTE may be more accurate on differentiating benign and malignant thyroid nodules.

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