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J Clin Ultrasound. 2003 Mar-Apr;31(3):119-28.

Contrast-enhanced power Doppler sonography and helical computed tomography for assessment of vascularity of small hepatocellular carcinomas before and after percutaneous ablation.

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Radiology Department, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Calle Villarroel, 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.



We compared the usefulness of Levovist-enhanced power Doppler imaging (PDI) and helical CT in the depiction of tumor vascularity before and after percutaneous ablation of small hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs).


Thirty-one cirrhotic patients with solitary unresectable HCCs smaller than 5 cm (mean size, 2.7 +/- 0.8 cm; range, 1.5-5.0 cm) recruited over a 15-month period were treated with percutaneous ethanol injection (n = 9) or radiofrequency ablation (n = 22). PDI, contrast-enhanced PDI (using Levovist), and multiphase contrast-enhanced helical CT were performed before and after percutaneous ablation, and vascularity findings were compared.


Levovist significantly increased baseline intratumoral Doppler signals on PDI compared to non-contrast PDI. The most frequent tumor vascularity pattern was heterogeneous (45%). Vascularity was identified in all tumors by both contrast-enhanced PDI and helical CT before ablation. After percutaneous ablation, intratumoral vascularity was detected in 11 tumors by contrast-enhanced PDI and in 15 tumors by CT. The sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy of contrast-enhanced PDI in demonstrating intratumoral vascularity, with CT being the gold standard, were 66%, 93%, and 81%, respectively. There was significant agreement between the 2 modalities in the depiction of tumor vascularity after ablation (kappa = 0.6, p = 0.001). However, there were 5 false negatives and 1 false positive with contrast-enhanced PDI. Complete tumor necrosis was achieved in 21 patients (68%).


There was a good concordance between contrast-enhanced PDI and helical CT in the depiction of HCC vascularity before and after percutaneous ablation. However, although contrast-enhanced PDI may be useful for real-time guidance of treatment, its low sensitivity makes it inadequate to accurately assess the completeness of ablation.

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