Ultrasound assessment of the thyroid gland in cattle

Little is known about thyroid diseases in ruminants, probably due to the lack of diagnosis techniques developed in this species. However, thyroid ultrasound (TU) is widely used in human and in companion animal's medicine. It is a cheap and non-invasive examination, which allows for the identification of thyroid structures or diffuse diseases.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of TU in five calves and five cows through inter- and intra-observer repeatability. 

The size of the thyroid gland was measured from three views: left sagittal, right sagittal and transverse; nine measurements per view.

The intra-observer coefficient was calculated for each observer. For the inter-observer, the first observer was a board-certified imagist (European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging diplomate), the second was a board-certified specialist in bovine and herd management (European College of Bovine Health Management diplomate) and the third was an in-trained veterinarian for the TU.

They each scanned the thyroid gland successively, following the same method. 

The intra-observer variabilities for observers 1, 2 and 3 were 8.22%, 5.53%, 5.38%, and 7.18%, 8.65% and 6.36%, respectively, for calves and cows. The inter-observer variability for calves was 10.4% and for cows, 11.8%. 

In conclusion, this study confirms the feasibility of repeatable intra- and inter-observer TU-estimated measurements in cattle.

Justine Eppe et al. “Technical Validation of Ultrasound Assessment of the Thyroid Gland in Cattle.” Vet Sci. 2023 Apr 28;10(5):322. doi: 10.3390/vetsci10050322.

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