Performances and Limitations of Several Ultrasound-Based Elastography Techniques: A Phantom Study

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2017 Oct;43(10):2402-2415. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2017.06.008. Epub 2017 Jul 29.


The objective of this study is to assess strain and shear wave (SW) elastography performance in terms of accuracy by performing in vitro measurements on a calibrated elastography phantom. Acquisitions were done on a phantom containing 4 inclusions (12-74 kPa) embedded in a homogeneous background material (30 kPa). We performed qualitative assessment on elastograms, semiquantitative assessment with strain or elasticity ratios between each inclusion and the background and quantitative evaluation with SW acquisitions. Ratio and elasticity estimations were compared with expected values. Biases, relative errors and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated. All techniques adequately classified inclusions as harder or softer than the background. For stiffness ratio estimation, SW methods were more precise than strain methods and had significantly higher percentages of correctly classified measurements (p = 0.008). Quantitative stiffness measurements were reproducible despite constant biases. SW elastography methods provide more reproducible estimations of tissue stiffness ratio than strain methods, as well as reproducible quantitative tissue stiffness despite constant biases.

Keywords: Elasticity phantom; Elastography; Shear wave elastography; Tissue elasticity imaging; Ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*