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Pyogenic hepatic abscesses: MRI findings on T1- and T2-weighted and serial gadolinium-enhanced gradient-echo images.

The purpose of this study was to determine the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) features of pyogenic hepatic abscesses on T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and serial gadolinium (Gd)-enhanced T1-weighted spoiled gradient-echo (SGE) images including images acquired in the immediate, intermediate, and late phases of enhancement. The MRI studies of 20 patients with pyogenic liver abscesses were retrospectively reviewed. All patients were examined on 1.5 (n = 19) and 1.0 (n = 1) T MR scanners. MR studies included T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and serial Gd-enhanced SGE images. The following determinations were made: signal intensity of the abscess cavity and perilesional liver tissue, and the presence of internal septations, layering material, or air in the abscess cavity. The pattern of enhancement of the abscess wall, internal septae and peri-abscess liver were evaluated on serial Gd-enhanced SGE images. A total of 53 abscesses were observed in the 20 patients. Fortyeight abscesses were hypointense on T1-weighted and hyperintense on T2-weighted images. Internal septations were present in four abscesses. Lower signal intensity material was observed in a dependent location on T2-weighted images in one abscess. Signal void foci of air located on the nondependent surface was observed in two abscesses. Two other abscesses contained signal void air that occupied the entire abscess cavity, observed on all imaging sequences. On serial gadolinium-enhanced images, all abscesses revealed early enhancement of the wall, which persisted with negligible change in degree of enhancement or thickness on delayed images. Abscess walls ranged in thickness from 2 to 5 mm. Internal septations ranged in thickness from 2 to 3 mm. Abscess walls and septations were relatively uniform in thickness with no evidence of focal nodularity. Periabscess liver tissue was mildly hypointense on T1-weighted and mildly hyperintense on T2-weighted images in 20 lesions, which were either circumferential (n = 12) or wedge-shaped (n = 8). All these regions enhanced more than the remainder of the liver on immediate post-gadolinium images and remained relatively hyperintense on late phase images. Periabscess liver parenchyma was isointense on both T1- and T2-weighted images in 18 lesions, and in these lesions wedge-shaped subsegmental (n = 6) or segmental (n = 12) enhancement was observed on immediate gadolinium-enhanced images, which faded to isointensity on intermediate phase images. No perilesional signal changes and enhancement difference was observed in 15 lesions. Characteristic features of abscesses include: intense mural enhancement on early gadolinium-enhanced images, which persists with negligible change in thickness and intensity on later post-gadolinium images, and the presence of periabscess increased enhancement on immediate post-gadolinium images. These MRI features may help to distinguish abscesses from other focal liver lesions during differential diagnosis.

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