Background: There currently is a need for a non-invasive measure of renal fibrosis. We aim to explore whether shear wave elastography (SWE)-derived estimates of tissue stiffness may serve as a non-invasive biomarker that can distinguish normal and abnormal renal parenchymal tissue.
Methods: Participants with CKD (by estimated GFR) and healthy volunteers underwent SWE. Renal elasticity was estimated as Young's modulus (YM) in kilopascals (kPa). Univariate Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used.
Results: Twenty-five participants with CKD (median GFR 38 mL/min; quartile 1, quartile 3 28, 42) and 20 healthy controls without CKD underwent SWE performed by a single radiologist. CKD was associated with increased median YM (9.40 [5.55, 22.35] vs. 4.40 [3.68, 5.70] kPa; p = 0.002) and higher median intra-subject inter-measurement estimated YM's variability (4.27 [2.89, 9.90] vs. 1.51 [1.21, 2.05] kPa; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: SWE-derived estimates of renal stiffness and intra-subject estimated stiffness variability are higher in patients with CKD than in healthy controls. Renal fibrosis is a plausible explanation for the observed difference in YM. Further studies are required to determine the relationship between YM, estimated renal stiffness, and renal fibrosis severity.