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Radiology. 2000 Sep;216(3):698-703.

Extrahepatic metastases of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA 15213, USA.



To determine the relative frequency, incidence, and locations of metastases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), correlate extrahepatic metastatic disease with intrahepatic tumor staging, and determine the computed tomographic (CT) manifestations of HCC metastases.


CT findings in 403 consecutive patients with HCC at our institution since 1992 were reviewed retrospectively. One hundred forty-eight patients with extrahepatic metastatic HCC were identified, and the locations, sizes, and attenuation and enhancement characteristics of the lesions were recorded.


A majority (128 [86%] of 148) of patients with extrahepatic HCC foci had either intrahepatic stage IVA tumor (112 [76%] patients) or an intrahepatic stage III tumor (16 [11%] patients) at the occurrence of metastases. The most frequent site of the first detectable metastasis was the lung (58 [39%] patients). Tabulation of all extrahepatic metastatic sites showed the most common to be the lung in 81 (55%) patients, the abdominal lymph nodes in 60 (41%) patients, and the bone in 41 (28%) patients.


The lung, abdominal lymph nodes, and bone are the most common sites of extrahepatic metastatic HCC. Most extrahepatic HCC occurs in patients with advanced intrahepatic tumor stage (stage IVA). Incidental extrahepatic lesions at CT in patients with stage I or II intrahepatic HCC are unlikely to represent metastatic HCC.

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