For centuries, clinicians have used palpation to evaluate abdominal organs. After exploring almost all the different methods of interaction between x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic fields on tissues, recent interest has focused on the evaluation of their mechanical properties.
Acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) is a recent, established ultrasound-based diagnostic technique that allows physicians to obtain a measure of the elastic properties of an organ. Shear wave velocity, obtained by the ARFI technique, depends on the elasticity of tissues.
To date, there are studies on the ARFI technique applied to normal kidneys, chronic kidney diseases, and kidney transplants. Mechanical properties of the kidney, such as stiffness and deformity, depend on various conditions that alter its histology, in particular the amount of fibrosis in the renal parenchyma; urinary pressure and renal blood perfusion may be other important contributing factors. Unfortunately, the ARFI technique applied to native renal pathologies is still limited, and not all studies are comparable because they used different methods. Therefore, the results reported in recent literature encourage further improvement of this method and the drawing up of standardized guidelines of investigation.