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Eur Radiol. 2010 Apr;20(4):898-907. doi: 10.1007/s00330-009-1622-0. Epub 2009 Oct 3.

Multidetector-row computed tomography (MDCT) for the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic candidates for liver transplantation: prevalence of radiological vascular patterns and histological correlation with liver explants.

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Department of Radiology, Mediterranean Institute for Transplantation and Advanced Specialized Therapies (ISMETT), Palermo, Italy.

Erratum in

  • Eur Radiol. 2011 Jul;21(7):1574. Grutttadauria, Salvatore [corrected to Gruttadauria, Salvatore].



To define the prevalence of different multidetector-row computed tomography (MDCT) vascular patterns and their histopathological correlation with liver explants, and to evaluate the accuracy of MDCT for the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


We retrospectively reviewed 125 cirrhotic patients imaged by MDCT before liver transplantation. Three main vascular patterns were identified: hypervascular lesion with washout (Hyper-L-Wo), hypervascular lesion without washout (Hyper-L) and non-hypervascular lesion (Hypo-L). Radiological findings were matched with histopathology of explants.


Positive predictive value (PPV) and likelihood ratio (LR) were 95% and 18.66, respectively, for Hyper-L-Wo; 45% and 0.82 for Hyper-L; and 75% and 3 for Hypo-L of 20 mm or larger. Overall accuracy of MDCT for detection and characterisation of HCC was 89% and 43%, respectively. Sensitivity of MDCT for detection and characterisation was related to the lesion size, ranging from 78% (lesion smaller than 10 mm) to 98% (larger than 20 mm) and from 9% to 64%, respectively. MDCT established the accurate stage of disease in 46% of the patients, underestimated in 52% and overestimated in 2%.


In cirrhotic patients, any Hyper-L-Wo detected by MDCT can be confidently considered to be HCC. Hyper-L larger than 10 mm and Hypo-L of 20 mm or larger are at high risk of HCC. However, even using MDCT and the newest imaging protocols, imaging underestimated the diagnosis of small HCC.

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