Background: Contrast-enhanced intra-operative ultrasound (CE-IOUS) for colorectal liver metastases (CLMs) has become a part of clinical practice. Whether it should be selectively or routinely applied remains unclear. The aim of this study was to define criteria for the use of CE-IOUS. Methods: One-hundred and twenty-seven patients underwent a hepatectomy for CLMs using IOUS and CE-IOUS. All patients underwent computed tomography (CT) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) within 2 weeks prior to surgery. The reference was histology, and imaging at 6 months after surgery. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Statistical significance was set at P = 0.05. Results: Using IOUS an additional 172 lesions in 51 patients were found. CE-IOUS found 14 additional lesions in 6 patients. Seventy-eight CLMs in 38 patients appeared within 6 months after surgery. The sensitivity, specificity, positive- and negative-predictive value were 63%, 98%, 100% and 27% for pre-operative imaging, 87%, 100%, 100% and 52% for IOUS, and 89%, 100%, 100% and 56% for IOUS+CE-IOUS, respectively. CE-IOUS allowed better tumour margin definition in 23 patients (18%), thus assisting resection. Analyses indicated that the presence of multiple (P = 0.014), and isoechoic CLMs (P = 0.049) were independently correlated with new findings at CE-IOUS. Conclusions: Compared with IOUS, CE-IOUS improved detection and resection guidance. These additions are significant and demand its use in cases with multiple and isoechoic CLMs.
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