Background Monitoring of renal allograft function is essential for early identification of dysfunction and improvement of kidney transplant (KTX) outcome. Purpose To non-invasively assess renal stiffness in KTX recipients using ultrasound shear wave elastography (USE) in correlation with multifrequency magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), renal allograft function, and renal microvascular flow determined using a novel ultrasound microvascular imaging technique. Material and Methods This prospective study investigated 25 KTXs (functional KTX [FCT], n = 14; chronic KTX insufficiency [DYS], n = 11) in 20 KTX recipients (mean age = 43 ± 14 years). USE was performed using a high-frequency broadband linear transducer and compared with MRE. Shear wave velocity (SWV) was correlated with the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Qualitative differences in renal microvascular flow were obtained using SMI. Results FCT had higher SWV than DYS in both cortex and pyramids (cortex, FCT: 3.75 ± 0.82 m/s vs. DYS: 2.79 ± 0.73 m/s, P = 0.0002; pyramid, FCT: 2.89 ± 0.46 m/s vs. DYS: 2.39 ± 0.34 m/s, P = 0.044). Cutoff values of 3.265 m/s for cortex, 2.535 m/s for pyramids, and 2.985 m/s for combined non-hilar parenchyma provided sensitivities of 72.7%, 77.8%, and 90.9% and specificities of 71.4%, 78.6%, and 85.7% for detecting renal allograft dysfunction with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) values of 0.831, 0.841, 0.925 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.67-0.99, 0.66-1.02, 0.83-1.03). USE correlated positively with eGFR ( r = 0.741, P = 0.0004) and with MRE-derived SWV ( r = 0.562, P = 0.004). Renal microvascular flow was decreased in DYS. Conclusion USE is sensitive to renal allograft dysfunction, which is characterized by reduced SWV and renal perfusion. USE has higher image resolution than MRE, while MRE has slightly better diagnostic accuracy.
Keywords: Kidney transplantation; elasticity imaging techniques; magnetic resonance imaging; microcirculation; primary graft dysfunction; ultrasonography.