MR imaging features for improved diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in the non-cirrhotic liver: Multi-center evaluation

M A Fischer, D A Raptis, O F Donati, R Hunziker, E Schade, G C Sotiropoulos, J McCall, A Bartlett, Ph Bachellier, A Frilling, S Breitenstein, P-A Clavien, H Alkadhi, M A Patak
European Journal of Radiology 2015, 84 (10): 1879-87

PURPOSE: To determine MR-imaging features for the differentiation between hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and benign hepatocellular tumors in the non-cirrhotic liver.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: 107 consecutive patients without liver cirrhosis (46 male; 45 ± 14 years) who underwent liver resection due to suspicion of HCC were included in this multi-center study. The following imaging features were assessed: lesion diameter and demarcation, satellite-lesions, central-scar, capsule, fat-content, hemorrhage, vein-infiltration and signal-intensity (SI) on native T1-, T2- and dynamic-enhanced T1-weighted images (center versus periphery). In addition, contrast-media (CM) uptake in the liver specific phase was analyzed in a sub-group of 42 patients.

RESULTS: Significant differences between HCC (n=55) and benign lesions (n=52) were shown for native T1-, T2- and dynamic-enhanced T1-SI, fat-content, and satellite-lesions (all, P<.05). Independent predictors for HCC were T1-hypointensity (odds-ratio, 4.81), T2-hypo-/hyperintensity (5.07), lack of central tumor-enhancement (3.36), and satellite-lesions (5.78; all P<0.05). Sensitivity and specificity of HCC was 91% and 75% respectively for two out-of four independent predictors, whereas specificity reached 98% for all four predictors. Sub-analysis, showed significant differences in liver specific CM uptake between HCC (n=18) and benign lesions (n=24; P<0.001) and revealed lack of liver specific CM uptake (odds-ratio, 2.7) as additional independent feature for diagnosis of HCC.

CONCLUSION: Independent MRI features indicating HCC are T1-hypointensity, T2-hypo- or hyperintensity, lack of central tumor-enhancement, presence of satellite-lesions and lack of liver specific CM-uptake. These features may have the potential to improve the diagnosis of HCC in the non-cirrhotic liver.

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