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BACKGROUND - Patients with chronic kidney disease are at increased risk of cystic kidney disease that requires imaging monitoring in many cases. However, these same patients often have contraindications to contrast-enhanced computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. This study evaluates the accuracy of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), which is safe for patients with chronic kidney disease, for the characterization of kidney lesions in patients with and without chronic kidney disease.
METHODS - We performed CEUS on 44 patients, both with and without chronic kidney disease, with indeterminate or suspicious kidney lesions (both cystic and solid). Two masked radiologists categorized lesions using CEUS images according to contrast-enhanced ultrasound adapted criteria. CEUS designation was compared to histology or follow-up imaging in cases without available tissue in all patients and the subset with chronic kidney disease to determine sensitivity, specificity and overall accuracy.
RESULTS - Across all patients, CEUS had a sensitivity of 96% (95% CI: 84%, 99%) and specificity of 50% (95% CI: 32%, 68%) for detecting malignancy. Among patients with chronic kidney disease, CEUS sensitivity was 90% (95% CI: 56%, 98%), and specificity was 55% (95% CI: 36%, 73%).
CONCLUSIONS - CEUS has high sensitivity for identifying malignancy of kidney lesions. However, because specificity is low, modifications to the classification scheme for contrast-enhanced ultrasound could be considered as a way to improve contrast-enhanced ultrasound specificity and thus overall performance. Due to its sensitivity, among patients with chronic kidney disease or other contrast contraindications, CEUS has potential as an imaging test to rule out malignancy.
TRIAL REGISTRATION - This trial was registered in clinicaltrials.gov, NCT01751529 .