Purpose: To report our preliminary experience concerning the use of Doppler ultrasonography (DUS) techniques after intravenous injection of the galactose-based contrast agent Levovist in the assessment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE). The sonographic findings are correlated with those obtained using iodized oil (Lipiodol) helical computed tomography (CT). Methods: For 7 months we studied 28 patients with cirrhosis and HCC (a total of 43 nodules) who had undergone TACE between 18 and 30 days previously. The lesions were investigated with color Doppler ultrasonography (CDUS) and power Doppler ultrasonography (PDUS), before and after infusion of the echo-contrast agent (300 mg/ml, maximum 1 injection for each nodule, administered at constant velocity within 60-90 sec), and with helical Lipiodol-CT (0-7 days after DUS). In the retrospective analysis, special attention was given to the Doppler signals related to pulsatile intraand perinodular flow and to the detection of new vessels after contrast agent injection. The signal intensity was graded as 0 (absent), 1 (low), 2 (medium), or 3 (high), while its distribution was classified as peripheral, central, or diffuse. Oily agent retention on CT scans was assessed as 0 (absent), I (50%), or IV (homogeneous). These scores were awarded separately, without knowledge of the other judgments. Results: An hepatic global echo-enhancing effect was identified in all cases and always lasted long enough to allow an accurate analysis of all parenchymal lesions (at least 8 min). The signal scores could be evaluated in 39 of 43 HCCs, as follows: basal CDUS: grade 0 in 17 lesions, grade 1 in 16, grade 2 in 6; contrast-enhanced CDUS: grade 0 in 12 lesions, grade 1 in 10, grade 2 in 14, grade 3 in 3; basal PDUS: grade 0 in 15 lesions, grade 1 in 13, grade 2 in 9, grade 3 in 2; contrast-enhanced PDUS: grade 0 in 11 lesions, grade 1 in 9, grade 2 in 15, grade 3 in 6. Lipiodol-CT scoring was: grade 0 in 1 lesion, grade I in 7, grade II in 11, grade III in 9, grade IV in 11. In all but one nodule the difference between CDUS and PDUS scores, compared both with each other and with nonenhanced and contrast- enhanced examinations, was never greater than one grade. Conclusions: Contrast-enhanced DUS is a simple and fast procedure allowing a valuable, constant echo-enhancing effect of sufficient duration. DUS techniques, especially contrast-enhanced PDUS, offer an effective and realistic analysis of HCC nodules treated with TACE and show more evident agreement with Lipiodol-CT findings than baseline studies.
- Doppler ultrasonography, contrast agents
- HCC, chemoembolization
- Iodized oil CT
- Liver, hepatocellular carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine