Quantitative Time-Harmonic Ultrasound Elastography of the Abdominal Aorta and Inferior Vena Cava

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2019 Sep;45(9):2349-2355. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2019.05.021. Epub 2019 Jun 11.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of quantitative time-harmonic ultrasound elastography (THE) of the inferior vena cava (IVC) and abdominal aorta (AA) to changes in central volume status. THE of the IVC and AA was performed in 20 healthy volunteers before and after oral intake of 1 L of water and before or during passive leg raising to augment venous filling. Compound maps of shear wave speed (SWS) as surrogate measures of vessel wall stiffness were generated within the full field of view from multifrequency harmonic wave fields. SWS was measured in regions of the IVC and AA. Blood pressure, stroke volume, cardiac output and pulse wave velocity were recorded. Statistical significance of SWS changes was tested using one-way repeated-measures analysis of variance. SWS measured in the IVC increased from 1.71 ± 0.1 m/s before water intake to 1.82 ± 0.1 m/s during passive leg raising and, further, to 1.87 ± 0.1 m/s after hydration and to 1.95 ± 0.1 m/s with hydration plus passive leg raising (p < 0.001). SWS in the AA did not change significantly after hydration (2.14 ± 0.13 m/s vs. 2.15 ± 0.16 m/s; p = 0.792). SWS was significantly higher in the AA than in the IVC across all experiments (p < 0.001). Water drinking did not significantly influence blood pressure, pulse wave velocity and cardiac output (all p values >0.1), whereas stroke volume increased significantly (p = 0.031). Time-harmonic ultrasound elastography enables quantification of the wall stiffness of the large abdominal vessels and is sensitive to different volume and pressure states in the IVC.

Keywords: Elastography; Ultrasound; Vascular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aorta, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / diagnostic imaging*