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Radiology. 1997 Apr;203(1):98-104.

Cholangiocarcinoma: delayed CT contrast enhancement patterns.

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Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA 15213-2582, USA.



To determine the usefulness of delayed post-equilibrium-phase contrast material-enhanced images in evaluation of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.


Review of surgical, pathologic, and radiologic records revealed 47 patients with proved cholangiocarcinoma with delayed (6-36 minutes) post-equilibrium-phase contrast-enhanced computed tomographic (CT) scans. Unenhanced, dynamic contrast-enhanced, and delayed images were retrospectively reviewed, and enhancement patterns for cholangiocarcinoma lesions were recorded. Degree of delayed enhancement was compared with that of surrounding liver parenchyma. Patterns of delayed enhancement were characterized as homogeneous or heterogeneous. Enhancement characteristics were correlated with histologic findings.


Thirty-five (74%) of 47 patients had tumors with mild or marked hyperattenuating delayed contrast enhancement, of which 18 had tumors with homogeneous hyperattenuating enhancement. In three patients, the only evidence of tumor was on the delayed images. In one patient, the tumor was not definable at any imaging phase. Tumors with delayed enhancement tended to be fibrous; however, degree of contrast material retention did not always correlate with the fibrous content of tumors at histopathologic analysis.


Delayed tumoral contrast enhancement is a typical feature of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and may aid in the detection and characterization of such lesions at CT.

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