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Radiology. 2011 Dec;261(3):834-44. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11101840. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Imaging study of early hepatocellular carcinoma: usefulness of gadoxetic acid-enhanced MR imaging.

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Department of Radiology, University of Yamanashi, 1110 Shimokato, Chuo-shi, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan.



To describe imaging findings of early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at gadoxetic acid-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, dynamic contrast material-enhanced computed tomography (CT), CT during arterial portography (CTAP), and CT during hepatic arteriography (CTHA) and to compare the diagnostic performance of each modality for small (≤ 2 cm) HCC.


The institute ethics committee deemed study approval unnecessary. One hundred eight resected small lesions in 64 patients were diagnosed as a dysplastic nodule (DN) (n = 12), progressed HCC (n = 66), or early HCC (n = 30). All but two patients underwent all imaging examinations. The imaging characteristics of the lesions with each modality were determined. To evaluate the diagnostic performance of the modalities, two radiologists graded the presence of HCC with use of a five-point confidence scale. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (A(z)), sensitivity, and specificity of each modality were compared.


The imaging features that are statistically significant for differentiating an early HCC from a DN include fat-containing lesions at dual-echo T1-weighted MR imaging (seen in 16 of the 30 early HCCs and none of the DNs), low attenuation at unenhanced CT (seen in 13 of the 30 early HCCs and none of the DNs), low attenuation at CTAP (seen in 11 of the 30 early HCCs and none of the DNs), and low signal intensity at hepatocyte phase gadoxetic acid-enhanced MR imaging (seen in 29 of the 30 early HCCs and none of the DNs). The diagnostic performance of gadoxetic acid-enhanced MR imaging (A(z), 0.98 and 0.99) was significantly greater than that of contrast-enhanced CT (A(z), 0.87) and CTHA-CTAP (A(z), 0.85 and 0.86) owing to its significantly higher sensitivity (P < .001).


Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MR imaging is the most useful imaging technique for evaluating small HCC, including early HCC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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