Shear wave elastography

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 30 May 2024

Shear wave elastography is a developing variation of ultrasound imaging.

The concept is similar to strain elastography, but instead of using transducer pressure to compare a shift in an ultrasound A-line (thereby measuring changes in strain), a higher intensity pulse is transmitted to produce shear waves, which extend laterally from the insonated structure. The shear waves may then be tracked with low intensity pulses to find the shear velocity and this velocity is related to Young's modulus.

  1. point shear wave elastography (pSWE)

  2. 2D-shear wave elastography (2D-SWE)


Applications of shear wave elastography are being developed for:

  • breast ultrasound

  • liver ultrasound

    • detection of small lesions

    • evaluation of diffuse liver disease

  • prostate ultrasound

  • thyroid nodule ultrasound

  • musculoskeletal ultrasound

There may also be some applications in echocardiography.

The technique is still being developed for clinical use. There are a number of different ways to perform shear wave elastography and continued improvement in differentiation between lesion and background tissue is necessary for reliable clinical diagnosis.

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