Send to

Choose Destination
JAMA Oncol. 2017 Apr 1;3(4):456-463. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.3147.

MRI With Liver-Specific Contrast for Surveillance of Patients With Cirrhosis at High Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Author information

Department of Radiology, Liver Center, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Gastroenterology, Liver Center, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Applied Statistics, Gachon University, Republic of Korea.



Current recommendations for patients with cirrhosis are to undergo surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with ultrasonography (US) every 6 months. However, the sensitivity of US screening to detect early-stage HCC is suboptimal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with liver-specific contrast may detect additional HCCs missed by US in high-risk patients with cirrhosis.


To compare the HCC detection rate of US and MRI in patients with cirrhosis who are at high risk for HCC.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

A prospective surveillance study of 407 patients with cirrhosis and an estimated annual risk of HCC greater than 5% who underwent 1 to 3 biannual screening examinations with paired US and liver-specific contrast-enhanced MRI at a tertiary care hospital between November 2011 and August 2014. All patients were followed-up with dynamic computed tomography (CT) at 6 months after the study. The confirmation of HCC was based on the results of histologic examination and/or typical CT images of HCC.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

HCC detection rates and false-positive findings of US vs MRI.


A total of 407 eligible patients received 1100 screenings with paired US and MRI. Hepatocellular carcinomas were diagnosed in 43 patients: 1 detected by US only, 26 by MRI only, 11 by both, and 5 were missed by both. The HCC detection rate of MRI was 86.0% (37/43), significantly higher than the 27.9% (12/43) of US (P < .001). Magnetic resonance imaging showed a significantly lower rate of false-positive findings than US (3.0% vs 5.6%; P = .004). Of the 43 patients with HCC, 32 (74.4%) had very early-stage HCC (a single nodule <2 cm), and 29 (67.4%) received curative treatments. The 3-year survival rate of the patients with HCC (86.0%) was not inferior to those without HCC (94.2%; hazard ratio, 2.26; 95% CI, 0.92-5.56; P = .08).

Conclusions and Relevance:

In patients with cirrhosis at high-risk of HCC, screening that used MRI with liver-specific contrast resulted in a higher HCC detection rate and lower false-positive findings compared with US. With MRI screening, most of the cancers detected were at very early stage, which was associated with a high chance of curative treatments and favorable survival of patients. Whether surveillance with MRI would reduce mortality from HCC in high-risk patients requires further investigation.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01446666.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center