RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
Blood flow patterns in focal liver lesions at microbubble-enhanced US.
Noninvasive diagnosis of liver lesions is usually performed with contrast material-enhanced computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and is based on enhancement features of the arterial and portal venous phases. Ultrasonography (US) is often limited in characterizing liver lesions because color and spectral Doppler US provide limited vascular information in large patients and in small or deep lesions. However, microbubble contrast agents, together with specialized US techniques, now allow diagnosis of liver lesions based on morphologic evaluation of lesion vascularity and visualization of specific enhancement features. Microbubble contrast agents are purely intravascular, easy to administer, and well tolerated and allow sensitive real-time evaluation of blood flow in hepatic lesions. During the portal venous phase, benign lesions (eg, hemangioma, focal nodular hyperplasia) typically enhance more than the liver, whereas malignant lesions (eg, hepatocellular carcinoma, metastases) enhance less. Microbubble-enhanced US allows characterization of very small lesions that may not be accurately characterized with CT or MR imaging. Findings from initial studies suggest that microbubble-enhanced US of the liver provides enhancement information comparable to that provided by contrast-enhanced CT and MR imaging, along with real-time morphologic evaluation of lesion vascularity.
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