Retrospective comparison of measured stone size and posterior acoustic shadow width in clinical ultrasound images

Jessica C. Dai, Barbrina Dunmire, Kevan M. Sternberg, Ziyue Liu, Troy Larson, Jeff Thiel, Helena C. Chang, Jonathan D. Harper, Michael R. Bailey, Mathew D. Sorensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Posterior acoustic shadow width has been proposed as a more accurate measure of kidney stone size compared to direct measurement of stone width on ultrasound (US). Published data in humans to date have been based on a research using US system. Herein, we compared these two measurements in clinical US images. Methods: Thirty patient image sets where computed tomography (CT) and US images were captured less than 1 day apart were retrospectively reviewed. Five blinded reviewers independently assessed the largest stone in each image set for shadow presence and size. Shadow size was compared to US and CT stone sizes. Results: Eighty percent of included stones demonstrated an acoustic shadow; 83% of stones without a shadow were ≤ 5 mm on CT. Average stone size was 6.5 ± 4.0 mm on CT, 10.3 ± 4.1 mm on US, and 7.5 ± 4.2 mm by shadow width. On average, US overestimated stone size by 3.8 ± 2.4 mm based on stone width (p < 0.001) and 1.0 ± 1.4 mm based on shadow width (p < 0.0098). Shadow measurements decreased misclassification of stones by 25% among three clinically relevant size categories (≤ 5, 5.1–10, > 10 mm), and by 50% for stones ≤ 5 mm. Conclusions: US overestimates stone size compared to CT. Retrospective measurement of the acoustic shadow from the same clinical US images is a more accurate reflection of true stone size than direct stone measurement. Most stones without a posterior shadow are ≤ 5 mm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-732
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018



  • Calculi
  • Computed tomography
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Size
  • Ultrasonography
  • Urolithiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

Cite this

Dai, J. C., Dunmire, B., Sternberg, K. M., Liu, Z., Larson, T., Thiel, J., Chang, H. C., Harper, J. D., Bailey, M. R., & Sorensen, M. D. (2018). Retrospective comparison of measured stone size and posterior acoustic shadow width in clinical ultrasound images. World Journal of Urology, 36(5), 727-732.