Characterization of small nodules in cirrhosis by assessment of vascularity: the problem of hypovascular hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatology : Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
Luigi BolondiFabio Piscaglia

Abstract

In a prospective study, we examined the impact of arterial hypervascularity, as established by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) recommendations, as a criterion for characterizing small (1-3 cm) nodules in cirrhosis. A total of 72 nodules (1-2 cm, n = 41; 2.1-3 cm, n = 31) detected by ultrasonography in 59 patients with cirrhosis were included in the study. When coincidental arterial hypervascularity was detected at contrast perfusional ultrasonography and helical computed tomography, the lesion was considered to be hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) according to EASL criteria. When one or both techniques showed negative results, ultrasound-guided biopsy was performed. In cases with negative results for malignancy or high-grade dysplasia, biopsy was repeated when an increase in size was detected at the 3-month follow-up examination. Coincidental hypervascularity was found in 44 of 72 nodules (61%; 44% of 1-2-cm nodules and 84% of 2-3-cm nodules). Fourteen nodules (19.4%) had negative results with both techniques (hypovascular nodules). Biopsy showed HCC in 5 hypovascular nodules and in 11 of 14 nodules with hypervascularity using only one technique. All nodules larger than 2 cm finally resulted to be HCC. N...Continue Reading

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