Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Real-time imaging with the sonographic contrast agent SonoVue: differentiation between benign and malignant hepatic lesions.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated the ability of contrast-enhanced sonography with SonoVue (Altana Pharma, Konstanz, Germany), a sulfur hexafluoride microbubble contrast agent, to reveal differences between benign and malignant focal hepatic lesions.

METHODS: One hundred twenty-six lesions in 124 patients with focal hepatic lesions detected by B-mode sonography (hepatocellular carcinoma, n = 36; metastasis, n = 25; cholangiocellular carcinoma, n = 1; lymphoma, n = 2; focal nodular hyperplasia, n = 9; adenoma, n = 4; regenerative cirrhotic nodule, n = 13; hemangioma, n = 29; and focal hyposteatosis, n = 7) were examined in a prospective study. After intravenous injection of 2.4 mL of SonoVue, the liver was examined continuously for 3 minutes by low-mechanical index pulse inversion sonography.

RESULTS: For the discrimination of malignant versus benign liver lesions, SonoVue-enhanced sonography improved sensitivity from 78% to 100% and specificity from 23% to 92% compared with baseline sonography. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed a significant improvement in this discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.510 +/- 0.054 [SD] at baseline sonography, 0.998 +/- 0.003 with SonoVue-enhanced sonography; P < .001). The following flow patterns in the early phase were diagnosis specific: early central starlike pattern for focal nodular hyperplasia, peripheral globular-nodular pattern for hemangioma, and diffuse arterial enhancement for malignant lesions. Homogeneous enhancement in the late phase was predictive for benign lesions (P < .001). Conversely, 93% of patients without contrast enhancement in the late phase had malignant lesions (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: SonoVue-enhanced sonography has greater specificity and sensitivity than baseline sonography for the differentiation of benign and malignant liver lesions.

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