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Keywords:

  • distal acoustic shadowing artifact;
  • nephrolith;
  • spatial compound imaging

Spatial compound sonography improves visualization of tissue details and allows clearer delineation of structural margins. Improved image clarity is due to reduced speckling artifact; however, other types of acoustic shadowing artifacts may be unchanged or variably altered when conventional and spatial compound sonographic images are compared. Because intrarenal distal shadowing artifacts in conventional sonographic images are oftentimes the first or only evidence that a nephroliths is present, we compared the appearance and associated artifacts of nephroliths examined with both imaging modes. Consensus evaluation by two evaluators confirmed differences in appearance of nephroliths based on imaging mode. Nephroliths with conventional imaging mode were less hyperechoic and had better margin delineation while nephroliths were more hyperechoic and had less distinct margins with spatial compound imaging mode. Distal acoustic shadowing artifacts were present in 43% of spatial compound imaging mode vs. 86% of conventional imaging mode. When present in both imaging modes, intensity of these artifacts was weaker and the distance traveled was shorter in spatial compound imaging mode. Multiple diverging acoustic shadowing artifacts originating from a single source, the nephroliths were occasionally noted in spatial compound but not conventional imaging mode. These results demonstrate that the absence of distal acoustic shadowing cannot be used to exclude the presence of a nephrolith in dogs and cats. Optimal diagnosis of nephroliths, margin delineation, and visualization of the distal renal parenchyma requires paired radiography and sonography, and alternating between sonographic imaging modes is therefore suggested.