Contrast enhanced ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging in hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosis

Cristiana I Dumitrescu, Ioana A Gheonea, Larisa Săndulescu, Valeriu Surlin, Adrian Săftoiu, Daniela Dumitrescu
Medical Ultrasonography 2013, 15 (4): 261-7

BACKGROUND: The new developments in imaging technology, including contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), allow a better diagnosis of both malignant and benign liver lesions.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective trial of 126 patients was conducted in the Gastroenterology and Imaging Departments of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Craiova, Romania. CEUS and MRI were the imaging techniques used for diagnosis of focal liver lesions (FLL), especially for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Histopathology was used only in 15 cases. For each method of investigation we calculated the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV), positive and negative likelihood ratio (+LR, -LR), accuracy and we compared the ROC curves. Statistical analysis also included the Chi-square and Kappa tests.

RESULTS: Seventy six cases were diagnosed as HCC, with average size of 5.2±3.3 cm in diameter. The sensitivity and specificity were 71.4% and 95.6% for CEUS and 91.4%, 98.9% respectively, for MRI. When comparing the ROC curves, we found a higher area under curve for MRI (0.952) then for CEUS (0.835) (p=0.005), and 95% confidence interval of 0.0343 to 0.199. No statistically significant difference in diagnosis of FLL was found between CEUS and MRI (p > 0.05) and the agreement between the two imaging techniques was good (k = 0.78).

CONCLUSIONS: CEUS can be used as the first step in the diagnosis of liver lesions, but MRI remains the gold standard diagnostic method for liver tumors.

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