PURPOSE: Hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) is a rare benign monoclonal neoplasm, recently categorized on genetic and histopathological basis into four subtypes with different biological behaviors. Since contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) is nowadays a well-established technique for liver nodule characterization, the aim of our study was to assess CEUS features of HCAs to identify criteria that correlate with different HCA subtypes as compared to histopathologic examination and other imaging modalities.
METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed data of patients with histology-proven HCA who underwent CEUS, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in seven different Italian ultrasound units.
RESULTS: The study enrolled 19 patients (16 females; 69% with concomitant/prior use of oral contraceptives): the mean size of all HCAs was 4.2 cm (range 1.6-7.1 cm); 14/19 had inflammatory HCAs (I-HCA), 1/19 β-catenin-activated HCA, and the others unclassified HCAs. On CEUS, during the arterial phase, all but one HCA displayed a rapid enhancement, with 89% of these showing centripetal and 11% centrifugal filling pattern, whereas during the portal and late venous phase 58% of HCA showed washout and the remaining 42% displayed persistent enhancement. In particular, among I-HCAs 7/14 showed no washout, 3/14 and 4/14 showed washout in the portal or late phase, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: This dataset represents one of the few published experiences on HCAs and CEUS in Italy and shows that HCAs are hypervascularized in the arterial phase usually with a centripetal flow pattern and have a heterogeneous behavior in portal and late phase. In particular, occurrence of delayed washout on CEUS but not on MRI is frequently observed in the subtype of I-HCA.