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Eur Radiol. 1998;8(1):30-5.

Evaluation of the vascular pattern of hepatocellular carcinoma with dynamic computed tomography and its use in identifying optimal temporal windows for helical computed tomography.

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Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, Regina Apostolorum Hospital, Via San Francesco, 50, I-00041 Albano L., Rome, Italy.


The aim of this work was to study the vascularization of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by means of dynamic CT and to demonstrate the existence of optimal temporal windows for visualization of HCC in order to develop new protocols for helical CT of the liver. We studied, by means of dynamic CT, 42 histologically proved HCCs in 30 patients after injecting contrast medium (100 ml, 3 ml/s). We performed a time-density analysis of the aorta, liver, portal vein, spleen and lesion. We identified three temporal curves of attenuation of the neoplastic tissue. Curve 1 was three-phasic: hyperattenuation, isoattenuation and hypoattenuation; curve 2 was two-phasic: hyperattenuation and isoattenuation; curve 3 was two-phasic: isoattenuation and hypoattenuation. Thirty-two lesions were homogeneous (curve 1 in 22 cases, 68.7 %; curve 2 in 7 cases, 21.8 %; curve 3 in 3 cases, 9.4 %), whereas 10 lesions were non-homogeneous. Two optimal temporal windows were identified: the first, with predominantly hyperattenuating lesions (range 29-65 s, 90.4 % sensitivity); the second, with predominantly hypoattenuating lesions (range 132.1-360 s, 76.1 %). There is an interposed time range of reduced visualization (range 62-127 s, 54.7 %) in which lesions are isoattenuating. Combined CT study during the first and second temporal windows improves the detection of HCCs especially for homogeneous and small lesions. The intermediate isoattenuation time range does not increase lesion detection rate.

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