Differentiation of oncocytoma and renal cell carcinoma in small renal masses (<4 cm): the role of 4-phase computerized tomography

Vincent G Bird, Prashanth Kanagarajah, Gaston Morillo, Daniel J Caruso, Rajinikanth Ayyathurai, Raymond Leveillee, Merce Jorda
World Journal of Urology 2011, 29 (6): 787-92

PURPOSE: We investigate the use of 4-phase computerized tomography with intravenous contrast to help distinguish oncocytoma from renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in tumors <4 cm.

METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients who underwent surgical management for renal tumors <4 cm from 2005 to 2008. Patients who had pre-operative CT evaluation as per our institution's renal mass protocol and had confirmed pathological diagnosis of either oncocytoma or RCC were included in the study. Enhancement readings were obtained for the tumor and the renal cortex using the same slice simultaneously.

RESULTS: Our cohort involved 69 patients (46 men, 23 women; mean age 66) who presented with 79 renal masses. Histopathologically 40 were clear cell, 22 papillary, 5 chromophobe RCC and 12 oncocytoma. On the arterial, venous and delayed phase images, oncocytoma showed the highest mean enhancement change, i.e.,546, 396 and 239% followed by clear cell RCC 261, 261 and 174%, chromophobe RCC 147, 127 and 66% and papillary RCC 137, 184 and 118%, respectively. The enhancement pattern differed significantly on comparing oncocytoma with RCC (P < 0.007). The mean percentage contrast excreted at the end of the delayed phase was 33.3, 13.8, 32 and 53% for clear cell, papillary, chromophobe and oncocytoma, respectively.

CONCLUSION: The enhancement and washout values in Hounsfield units obtained by multiphasic CT scan aid in distinguishing oncocytoma from the commonly seen subtypes of RCC in renal masses <4 cm. This preliminary study demonstrates that arterial phase enhancement greater than 500% and washout values of greater than 50% are exclusively seen in renal oncocytomas.

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