JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Contrast-enhanced intraoperative ultrasonography during surgery for hepatocellular carcinoma in liver cirrhosis: is it useful or useless? A prospective cohort study of our experience.

BACKGROUND: Preliminary results showed that contrast-enhanced intraoperative ultrasonography (CEIOUS) could provide information not obtainable with conventional IOUS during surgery for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of the study was to prospectively validate the role of CEIOUS on the basis of a larger experience and to establish a new classification that takes into account its findings.

METHODS: Eighty-seven consecutive patients underwent hepatecomies for HCC. Those patients with new lesions at IOUS underwent CEIOUS: for that patients received intravenously 4.8 mL sulphurhexafluoride microbubbles. Pattern of enhancement was classified in 4 categories: A1 (full enhancement in the arterial phase and wash-out in the delayed phases), A2 (intralesional signs of neovascularization during all phases), A3 (no nodular enhancement but detectability during the liver enhancement), and B (undetectability during the liver enhancement). Resection was recommended for A1-3 nodules and no treatment for B nodules.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine patients (33%) had 59 new lesions at IOUS and underwent CEIOUS. Twenty-seven nodules showed a B pattern at CEIOUS and were not removed; 32 nodules were classified as A1 in 5 patients, A2 in 11 patients, and A3 in 16 patients. The nodules were removed, and by histology, five A1, nine A2, and six A3 nodules were confirmed to be HCC. CEIOUS modified the operative decision making in 79% of these patients.

CONCLUSIONS: CEIOUS is useful during surgery for HCC; it complements the accuracy of IOUS and affects the radicalness of the surgical. Specificity of CEIOUS has to be further improved, although intrinsic drawbacks exist in the diagnostic criterion of tumor vascularity.

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