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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 109-117

Can elastography replace fine needle aspiration?

Research Center of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, Craiova, Romania

Correspondence Address:
Alexandru Popescu
Research Center of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, Craiova
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2303-9027.123009

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Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is one of the best diagnostic methods for diseases of the digestive tract and surrounding organs. Whereas EUS-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) has been very useful for providing histological confirmation for previously hard to reach lesions, elastography is aiming to obtain a "virtual biopsy" by assessing differences in elasticity between the normal and pathological - usually malignant - tissue. A question that arises is whether EUS-elastography has reached a stage where it might successfully supplant the use of EUS-FNA in some of its clinical indications. The main indications of EUS-guided FNA are listed in this article and published data on the usage of elastography in these settings is reviewed for each one. In some of the indications, a plethora of studies have been published, notably for the evaluation of solid pancreatic masses and lymph nodes, while in others there is little relevant data (submucosal masses, left liver lesions, left adrenal masses), or elastography simply is not suitable as a diagnostic means (cystic lesions). Our conclusion is that elastography is not yet ready to replace EUS-FNA in its indications, but should complement it in various settings, especially for the assessment of lymph nodes. It can only be considered an alternative on a case-by-case basis, in situations where FNA is regarded as a contraindication. Furthermore, it could be used in conjunction with other imaging techniques, such as contrast-enhanced EUS, in order to further improve the accuracy of non-invasive EUS assessment, possibly making the case for a more limited or targeted use of EUS-FNA in selected cases.

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