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Abdom Imaging. 2011 Jun;36(3):282-9. doi: 10.1007/s00261-011-9692-2.

Hepatocellular nodules in liver cirrhosis: MR evaluation.

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Department of Radiology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Institute of Radiation Medicine, Daehangno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea.


Liver cirrhosis is a major public health problem worldwide. Common causes of cirrhosis include hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, alcohol consumption, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Cirrhotic livers are characterized by advanced hepatic fibrosis and the development of hepatocellular nodules such as regenerative nodules, dysplastic or neoplastic nodules. Cirrhosis is the strongest predisposing factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). For example, viral hepatitis is the main risk factor for cirrhosis and is associated with the increased incidence (1%-4% per year) of HCC after development of cirrhosis. Currently, a variety of imaging modalities, including ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron-emission tomography (PET) are used in noninvasive evaluation of patients with chronic liver disease and suspected HCC. With technological development of MR scanners, MR imaging has emerged as an important imaging modality for assessing cirrhosis and its complications such as HCC. The recent advance in MR is the introduction of faster sequences which have allowed high-quality imaging of the entire liver with high intrinsic soft-tissue contrast, and also multiphasic dynamic MRI that is essential for the detection and characterization of HCC. In addition, functional MRI including diffusion-weighted MRI, MR elastography, and new MR contrast agent with dual function have been investigated for the clinical utility of detection and characterization of HCCs. In this article, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art MR imaging techniques being used for noninvasive assessment of hepatocellular nodules including conventional dynamic imaging, liver-specific contrast-enhanced MR imaging, diffusion-weighted imaging, MR spectroscopy, and MR elastography.

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