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Liver Transpl. 2012 Jun;18(6):727-36. doi: 10.1002/lt.23413.

Imaging predictors of the response to transarterial chemoembolization in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: a radiological-pathological correlation.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.


Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is one of the standard therapies for bridging patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to transplantation. This study was designed to determine which features on pre- and post-TACE imaging are associated with tumor necrosis in pathological specimens. Records of 105 patients with 132 HCC lesions who underwent liver transplantation after TACE were retrospectively reviewed. In 70% of the nodules, >90% necrosis was achieved. The development of >90% lesion necrosis upon pathological analysis was associated with avid lesion enhancement (P = 0.03) and the presence of a feeding vessel larger than 0.9 mm in diameter on the pre-TACE visceral angiogram (P = 0.01). Near-complete lesion necrosis was also associated with an extensive accumulation of ethiodized oil within a lesion during TACE administration (P = 0.04). On post-TACE computed tomography imaging, a lack of residual contrast enhancement (P < 0.0001), a decrease in the lesion size (P = 0.04), a high lesion density due to an accumulation of ethiodized oil (P = 0.03), and a diffuse distribution of ethiodized oil throughout the lesion (P = 0.0001) were also correlated with near-complete lesion necrosis upon pathological analysis. In conclusion, this study found multiple pre- and post-TACE imaging characteristics of HCC that were associated with near-complete tumor necrosis upon histopathological analysis after TACE. These findings may help to guide the selection of an optimal treatment strategy for bridging patients with HCC to liver transplantation.

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