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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1998 Apr;170(4):1005-13.

Hepatocellular carcinoma in North America: a multiinstitutional study of appearance on T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and serial gadolinium-enhanced gradient-echo images.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7510, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to define the common appearances of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients in North America by analyzing T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and serial gadolinium-enhanced gradient-echo images interpreted by radiologists at multiple institutions in North America.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

One hundred thirteen consecutive patients with HCC from eight institutions were included in this retrospective case series. Inclusion criteria included MR imaging examinations performed on 1.5-T MR imagers using T1-weighted breath-hold spoiled gradient-echo images, T2-weighted images, and serial gadolinium-enhanced spoiled gradient-echo images. Diagnosis was established by histology in all patients. Images were analyzed retrospectively for lesion count, lesion diameter as less than or equal to 1.5 cm and greater than 1.5 cm, and signal intensity, by individual experienced radiologists at each institution.

RESULTS:

We found 354 HCC lesions in the 113 patients. Tumors were solitary in 63 patients, multifocal in 45 patients, and diffuse in five patients. Lesion appearance on combined T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and immediate gadolinium-enhanced spoiled gradient-echo images was as follows: 102 lesions (29%) were hypointense on T1-weighted images, were hyperintense on T2-weighted images, and exhibited diffuse heterogeneous enhancement; 52 lesions (15%) were isointense on both T1- and T2-weighted images and exhibited diffuse homogeneous enhancement (all of these lesions measured < or = 1.5 cm in diameter); 50 lesions (14%) were hypointense on T1-weighted images, were hyperintense on T2-weighted images, and exhibited diffuse homogeneous enhancement; 33 lesions (9%) were hypointense on T1-weighted images, were hyperintense on T2-weighted images, and exhibited predominantly peripheral rim enhancement; and 27 lesions (8%) were hypointense on T1-weighted images, were isointense on T2-weighted images, and exhibited diffuse homogeneous enhancement. The remaining 90 lesions showed less common patterns. The appearance of HCCs greater than 1.5 cm and of HCCs less than or equal to 1.5 cm was significantly different (p = .001). The appearance of histologically proven HCCs is separately described.

CONCLUSION:

The combination of hypointensity on T1-weighted images, hyperintensity on T2-weighted images, and diffuse heterogeneous enhancement was the most common appearance of HCC on MR images in a multiinstitutional patient population in North America. Small HCCs measuring less than or equal to 1.5 cm were frequently isointense on both T1-weighted and T2-weighted images and may be detected on immediate gadolinium-enhanced images only as diffuse homogeneously enhancing lesions.

PMID:
9530051
DOI:
10.2214/ajr.170.4.9530051
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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