Background

Patients with chronic pancreatitis often have irreversible pancreatic insufficiency before a clinical diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is a fatal malignant tumor in the advanced stages. Patients having high risk of pancreatic diseases must be screened early to obtain better outcomes using new imaging modalities. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the reproducibility of tomoelastography measurements for assessing pancreatic stiffness and fluidity and the variance among healthy volunteers.

Methods

Forty-seven healthy volunteers were prospectively enrolled and underwent two tomoelastography examinations at a mean interval of 7 days. Two radiologists blindly and independently measured the pancreatic stiffness and fluidity at the first examination to determine the reproducibility between readers. One radiologist measured the adjacent pancreatic slice at the first examination to determine the reproducibility among slices and measured the pancreas at the second examination to determine short-term repeatability. The stiffness and fluidity of the pancreatic head, body, and tail were compared to determine anatomical differences. The pancreatic stiffness and fluidity were compared based on sex, age, and body mass index (BMI).

Results

Bland–Altman analyses (all P >0.05) and intraclass correlation coefficients (all >0.9) indicated near perfect reproducibility among readers, slices, and examinations at short intervals. Neither stiffness (P =0.477) nor fluidity (P =0.368) differed among the pancreatic anatomical regions. The mean pancreatic stiffness was 1.45 ± 0.09 m/s; the mean pancreatic fluidity was 0.83 ± 0.06 rad. Stiffness and fluidity did not differ by sex, age, or BMI.

Conclusion

Tomoelastography is a promising and reproducible tool for assessing pancreatic stiffness and fluidity in healthy volunteers.

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