Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub. X:X | 10.5507/bp.2017.024
Background: Shear wave elastography is a relatively new method of quantitative measurement of tissue elasticity. Assuming that malignant lesions are stiffer than benign ones, elastography may provide supplementary information for their discrimination. However, potential confounding factors impacting tissue stiffness should be investigated first.
Aims: The objective of this study was to measure the stiffness of selected tissues of the head and neck in a normal population and to evaluate its relationship to age, sex, and body mass index.
Methods: Stiffness of the thyroid, submandibular and parotid glands, masseter and sternocleidomastoid muscles, and cervical lymph nodes was measured bilaterally in 128 healthy volunteers (83 female and 45 male). At least 20 subjects in each decade of life (20-29, 30-39…, 70+) were enrolled. Shear wave elastography was performed by a single radiologist in all the subjects. The stiffnesses obtained were correlated with age, sex, and body mass index.
Results: The mean stiffness was 9.5 ± 3.6 kPa for the thyroid, 9.5 ± 4.6 kPa for the lymph node, 11.0 ± 3.4 kPa for the submandibular gland, 9.0 ± 3.5 kPa for the parotid gland, 9.9 ± 4.1 kPa for the sternocleidomastoid, and 10.0 ± 4.3 kPa for the masseter muscle. A slight general decrease in stiffness with increasing age was found. BMI and weight had a small impact on the minimum and maximum stiffness values. The sex of the subject did not affect elasticity.
Conclusion: The mean stiffness of healthy head and neck organs has a relatively narrow distribution around 11 kPa. The changes of stiffness with age, BMI, and weight that were identified are too small to have clinical impact.
Received: February 14, 2017; Accepted: May 4, 2017; Prepublished online: May 25, 2017