Vascular Shear Wave Elastography in Atherosclerotic Arteries: A Systematic Review.

J.T. Pruijssen, C.L. de Korte, I. Voss and H.H.G. Hansen

Ultrasound in medicine & biology 2020



Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, so adequate prevention strategies are crucial. However, current stroke risk stratification is based on epidemiologic studies and is still suboptimal for individual patients. The aim of this systematic review was to provide a literature overview on the feasibility and diagnostic value of vascular shear wave elastography (SWE) using ultrasound (US) in (mimicked) human and non-human arteries affected by different stages of atherosclerotic diseases or diseases related to atherosclerosis. An online search was conducted on Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science and IEEE databases to identify studies using US SWE for the assessment of vascular elasticity. A quality assessment was performed using Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 (QUADAS-2) checklist, and relevant data were extracted. A total of 19 studies were included: 10 with human patients and 9 with non-human subjects (i.e., [excised] animal arteries and polyvinyl alcohol phantoms). All studies revealed the feasibility of using US SWE to assess individually stiffness of the arterial wall and plaques. Quantitative elasticity values were highly variable between studies. However, within studies, SWE could detect statistically significant elasticity differences in patient/subject characteristics and could distinguish different plaque types with good reproducibility. US SWE, with its unique ability to assess the elasticity of the vessel wall and plaque throughout the cardiac cycle, might be a good candidate to improve stroke risk stratification. However, more clinical studies have to be performed to assess this technique's exact clinical value.