Guidance and monitoring of radiofrequency liver tumor ablation with contrast-enhanced ultrasound

Luigi Solbiati, Tiziana Ierace, Massimo Tonolini, Luca Cova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Radiofrequency (RF) treatments of non-resectable hepatic tumors are generally guided with real-time sonography, which, however, cannot differentiate necrotic changes from viable tumor. To achieve complete treatment of hepatic tumors, accurate imaging techniques are needed for close treatment follow-up. Usually contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used; however, they can be performed only at the end of treatment sessions. In this field, contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has shown to improve the sensitivity of plain ultrasonography. Recently, further developments of contrast-enhanced US technique have significantly increased its clinical utility. Continuous mode, low MI scans performed with harmonic imaging and contrast specific software appears as a very useful technique for the visualization of both macro- and microcirculation with depiction of tumor vascularisation. In our hospital, we have been employing contrast-enhanced sonography with sulphur hexaflouride microbubbles (SonoVue ®, Bracco, Italy) before, during and immediately at the end of RF ablation procedures to monitor and assess the therapeutic result prior to closing the treatment session. The results obtained in a group of 109 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in liver cirrhosis (192 lesions) and in 53 patients with liver metastases (97 lesions) undergoing a single session of percutaneous RF tumor ablation, showed that the sensitivity of CEUS for the detection of residual tumor was almost equivalent to that of contrast-enhanced helical CT. More importantly, since the introduction of intraoperative CEUS the rate of partially unablated tumors has dropped from 16.1 to 5.9%. Cost-effectiveness and reduction of patients' discomfort related to the need of re-treatment are the two most outstanding advantages of CEUS in this field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue numberSUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • Contrast-enhanced ultrasound
  • HCC
  • Liver
  • Metastases
  • Radiofrequency tumor ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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