Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) facilitated US in detecting lateral neck lymph node metastasis of thyroid cancer patients: diagnosis value and enhancement patterns of malignant lymph nodes

Abstract

Objectives

To examine the value of CEUS as a non-invasive tool in detecting lateral neck metastasis (LNM) and the enhancement patterns of malignant lymph nodes (LN) for thyroid cancer patients.

Methods

Eighty-two consecutive patients, who underwent both preoperative non-enhanced US and CEUS examinations, were retrospectively reviewed. All patients underwent lateral neck dissection (LND). Enhancement patterns of 102 collected LNs matching to CEUS findings were analyzed.

Results

CEUS detected LNM in 53 of 65 patients, showing a higher sensitivity and accuracy than that of conventional US (p = 0.109 and p = 0.154, respectively). Thirteen patients’ surgical procedures were altered by CEUS findings, including nine true positive and four false positive cases. Five patients’ surgical procedures were altered by conventional US findings, including two true positive and three false positive cases. Heterogeneous enhancement, perfusion defects, microcalcification, and centripetal/hybrid enhancement were all specific criteria for malignant LNs in univariate analysis. In multivariate analysis, only heterogeneous enhancement and centripetal/hybrid enhancement were significantly related to LN metastasis (p = 0.000 and p = 0.037, respectively).

Conclusions

CEUS may be a potential tool to facilitate conventional US in detecting LNM. Heterogeneous enhancement and centripetal/hybrid enhancement are useful criteria to distinguish between malignant and benign LNs.

Key Points

• CEUS findings facilitated conventional US in detecting LNM.

• Heterogeneous, centripetal/hybrid enhancement, microcalcification and perfusion defects were specific criteria of malignant LNs.

• Heterogeneous and centripetal/hybrid enhancement were significantly related to LN metastasis in multivariate analysis.

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Abbreviations

CEUS:

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound

LNM:

Lateral neck metastasis

LND:

Lateral neck dissection

LN:

Lymph node

TC:

Thyroid cancer

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Acknowledgments

The scientific guarantor of this publication is Zhiyu Li. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. This work was partially supported by Science Technology Department of Zhejiang Province Grant N20130658. Bo Zhang kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript. Institutional review board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects (patients) in this study. Methodology: retrospective, diagnostic or prognostic study, performed at one institution.

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Correspondence to Zhiyu Li.

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Xiang, D., Hong, Y., Zhang, B. et al. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) facilitated US in detecting lateral neck lymph node metastasis of thyroid cancer patients: diagnosis value and enhancement patterns of malignant lymph nodes. Eur Radiol 24, 2513–2519 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00330-014-3288-5

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Keywords

  • Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS)
  • Lateral neck metastasis (LNM)
  • Lateral neck dissection (LND)
  • Heterogeneous enhancement
  • Centripetal/hybrid enhancement