Objectives: To reveal typical ultrasonographic (US) changes in major salivary glands associated with Sjogren's syndrome (SS) and to determine the diagnostic value of a novel US scoring system.
Methods: In 218 consecutive patients with suspected SS, US of both parotid and submandibular salivary glands was performed besides the regular diagnostic procedure following the American-European Consensus Group criteria of 2002. Five US parameters were assessed: echogenicity, inhomogeneity, number of hypoechogenic areas, the hyperechogenic reflections and clearness of the borders of the salivary gland. The grades of these five parameters for all four salivary glands were summed. The final US score ranged from 0 to 48.
Results: SS was established in 68 patients. The remaining 150 subjects, in whom SS was not confirmed, constituted our control group. All five US parameters were significantly associated with SS. The patients with SS had significantly higher US scores than those not diagnosed with SS (P<0.01). Setting the cut-off US score at 17 resulted in the best ratio of specificity (98.7%) to sensitivity (58.8%).
Conclusions: Well-defined US changes in the major salivary glands summarized in our novel scoring system were typical of SS patients. Advanced structural changes found on US imaging almost invariably represent SS salivary gland involvement.