About 50% of the general population presents nodules in the thyroid gland. Although 90% of such nodules are benign, the cytological examination of material obtained by fine-needle aspiration (FNA) shows a 30% of not conclusive results. Apart from FNA, clinical data and echographic patterns are very limited in the prediction of malignancy in indeterminate nodules. Recently, ultrasound elastography (USE) has been proposed to study the elasticity of nodules by measuring its deformation under the application of a gentle pressure with the ultrasound (US) probe. Several recent studies show the effectiveness of USE for predicting malignancy of unselected thyroid nodules. These studies found a very high sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value for the detection of thyroid cancer. USE is a recent technique that is implemented in a few commercial US machines and thus very expensive. The system presented in this paper is a very affordable alternative to these USE commercial options, giving USE capabilities to a standard US machine. This system has been developed to be installed on every commercial US machine, and to be easy and little time consuming to operate. The system includes a complete database where clinical data for the patients and different tests and echographic data for the nodules can be stored for further studies.
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- First Steps towards a USE System for Non-invasive Thyroid Exploration