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Hepatology. 2003 Oct;38(4):1034-42.

MRI angiography is superior to helical CT for detection of HCC prior to liver transplantation: an explant correlation.

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Radiology Department, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.


Helical computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used for staging of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) prior to curative treatments but underestimate tumor extension in 30% to 50% of cases when compared with pathologic explants. This study compares a new technology, MRI angiography (MRA), with triphasic helical CT in detection of HCC. Fifty cirrhotic patients, 29 with HCC, undergoing liver transplantation were analyzed. MRA was performed with a 3-D breath-hold fast spoiled gradient-echo sequence by using an effective section thickness of 2 to 2.5 mm. The gold standard was the pathologic examination (liver cut into 5-mm slices). One hundred twenty-seven lesions were identified at the explant: 76 HCC, 13 high-grade dysplastic nodules, 31 macroregenerative nodules, 7 hemangiomas. Diameter of the main HCC nodules was 29 +/- 14 mm and 11 +/- 7 mm for the 47 additional nodules. On a per nodule basis, sensitivity of MRA was superior to CT (58/76 [76%] vs. 43/70 [61%], respectively, P =.001). Sensitivity of MRA for detection of additional nodules decreased with size (>20 mm: 6/6 [100%]; 10-20 mm: 16/19 [84%]; <10 mm: 7/22 [32%]) and was superior to CT for nodules 10 to 20 mm (84% vs. 47%, P =.016). Nonspecific hypervascular nodules >5 mm at MRA were HCC in two thirds of the cases. In conclusion, MRA has a high diagnostic accuracy for HCC > or =10 mm and is more sensitive than triphasic helical CT in nodules sized 10 to 20 mm. MRA is the optimal technique for HCC staging prior to curative therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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