Elastography: What is it and What are the Benefits?

Elastography is an imaging technique that can show the differences between soft and hard tissue in an internal organ. It is a method used to assess tissue health and detect changes in tissue stiffness. Elastography can be used to diagnose cancer, chronic diseases, and other conditions.

Preparing for Elastography

Before an elastography procedure can be carried out, the patient will typically need to make a few preparations. These preparations may involve the following:

  • Stopping any medications that can reduce the accuracy of the procedure, including blood thinners and anti-depressants.
  • Fasting for a few hours prior to the procedure.
  • Avoiding caffeine for 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Avoiding food a few hours before the procedure.
  • Informing the doctor if any contrast dye has been used in recent imaging procedures.

Elastography Procedure

Generally, an elastography procedure involves the following steps:

  • A doctor or technician will use an ultrasound probe to collect images of the soft or hard tissues that need to be examined.
  • A computer or ultrasound emitter will then gradually apply pressure to the area of interest.
  • The ultrasound images are then compared to the images obtained with no pressure and the resulting images are used to indicate the differences in tissue stiffness.
  • The medical practitioner will interpret the results and provide a diagnosis.

Types of Elastography

There are several types of elastography, each designed to assess a different body part. Some of the most common types of elastography are:

  • Breast elastography - used to assess the health of the breasts.
  • Liver elastography - used to diagnose liver fibrosis.
  • Prostate elastography - used to identify prostate cancer.
  • Skin elastography - used to detect skin cancer.

Risks of Elastography

Elastography is generally considered a safe procedure, but there are some risks. These may include:

  • Pain or discomfort during the procedure.
  • Burns or skin irritation caused by the ultrasound probe.
  • Bleeding at the site of the needle insertion, if a biopsy is required.

When Is Elastography Used?

Elastography is a non-invasive procedure and can be used to diagnose a variety of conditions. It is often used to detect cancer, kidney stones, and musculoskeletal diseases. It can also be used to assess the effectiveness of treatments, such as chemotherapy, and to monitor changes in tissue stiffness over time.

Why Is Elastography Used?

Elastography can provide a more accurate diagnosis than traditional ultrasound imaging, as it can reveal subtle differences in tissue stiffness that may indicate a health condition such as cancer. Elastography is also a relatively quick and painless procedure, which makes it an ideal tool for diagnosing a variety of conditions. Furthermore, elastography can be used to monitor changes in tissue stiffness over time, which can be useful for assessing treatment effectiveness.