Hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence after percutaneous ablation therapy: Helical CT patterns

O. Catalano, R. Lobianco, M. Esposito, A. Siani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To categorize the helical computed tomographic (CT) intrahepatic recurrence patterns of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after treatment with percutaneous ablation procedures. Methods: Double-phase helical CT studies of 67 patients with HCC recurrence were reviewed. The study population had undergone percutaneous ablation therapy procedures (multisession or single-session ethanol injection therapy, radiofrequency thermal ablation therapy, and interstitial laser photocoagulation therapy) for 120 HCC nodules. Results: Four patterns were defined. (A) Enhancing tissue within the edge of the ablated nodule on arterial phase images (ingrowth): this pattern was seen in five treated lesions (4.2% of all treated nodules) in five patients (7.5% of all patients with recurrence) 3-7 months after treatment (mean = 4 months). (B) Enhancing tissue around the treated nodule but continuously to its border on arterial-phase images (outgrowth): this pattern was found in 12 (10%) treated lesions in 12 patients (18%) 3-6 months after ablation (mean = 4 months). (C) Enhancing tissue within the same segment of the treated nodule on arterial phase images (spread): this pattern was detected in 10 (8%) treated lesions in 10 patients (15%) 3-6 months after treatment (mean = 5 months). (D) Enhancing tissue within different segments from the treated nodule on arterial phase images (progression): this pattern was identified in 34 patients (51%) with 53 (44%) treated tumors 5-22 months after ablation (mean = 8 months). A mixed pattern was found in six subjects (9%) with seven (6%) treated nodules. Among the 61 patients with a nonmixed pattern, there were 85 treated nodules with persistent necrosis, 17 treated nodules with local recurrence (pattern A or B), and 107 new nodules due to nonlocal recurrence (pattern C or D). Portal phase enhanced images and especially unenhanced images showed a lower detection rate and a lower lesion-to-liver conspicuity score (for all patterns but mainly for pattern C). Conclusion: Four patterns of recurrence after percutaneous ablation procedures can be categorized on double-phase helical CT and are best depicted on arterial phase images. Knowledge of these patterns is relevant for early detection and may be helpful in understanding the recurrence mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalAbdominal Imaging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Helical CT
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Percutaneous ablation
  • Recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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