Thyroid nodules are relatively more prevalent in iodine-deficiency area, and the incidence increased sharply in the past decade in these areas. Workup of malignant from benign nodules in clinic was the main problem for managing thyroid nodules.
An overall search for the articles about the diagnostic performance of real-time elastography (RTE) and shear wave elastography (SWE) before April 2015 in the databases of PubMed, Embase, and Google scholar. The pooled sensitivity, specificity, and summary receiver operating characteristic (SROC) curve were obtained from individual studies with a random-effects model. Subgroup and meta-regression analysis were also performed.
Fifty-six studies involved in 2621 malignant nodules and 7380 benign nodules were contained in our meta-analysis. The pooled sensitivity and specificity of RTE was 83.0% and 81.2%, which is higher than SWE (sensitivity: 78.7%, specificity: 80.5%). The areas under the SROC curve of RTE and SWE were 0.885 and 0.842 respectively. RTE had higher diagnostic value for Caucasians than Asians. Stran ratio (SR) assessment had higher diagnostic performance than elasticity score (ES) system. Similarly, it had higher diagnostic value when malignant nodules were more than 50.
In summary, the results revealed that RTE had higher diagnostic performance than SWE in differentiating malignant from benign nodules. However, future international multicenter studies in the region of thyroid risk need to further assess the diagnostic performance of RTE.