PURPOSE: The present study was conducted to assess the efficacy of contrast-enhanced ultrasound with low mechanical index in evaluating the response of percutaneous radiofrequency ablation treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma by comparing it with 4-row spiral computed tomography. MATERIALS AND METHODS: 100 consecutive patients (65 men and 35 women; age range: 62 - 76 years) with solitary hepatocellular carcinomas (mean lesion diameter: 3.7 cm +/- 1.1 cm SD) underwent internally cooled radiofrequency ablation. Therapeutic response was evaluated at one month after the treatment with triple-phasic contrast-enhanced spiral CT and low-mechanical index contrast-enhanced ultrasound following bolus injection of 2.4 ml of Sonovue (Bracco, Milan). 60 out of 100 patients were followed up for another 3 months. Contrast-enhanced sonographic studies were reviewed by two blinded radiologists in consensus. Sensitivity, specificity, NPV and PPV of contrast-enhanced ultrasound examination were determined. RESULTS: After treatment, contrast-enhanced ultrasound identified persistent signal enhancement in 24 patients (24 %), whereas no intratumoral enhancement was detected in the remaining 76 patients (76 %). Using CT imaging as gold standard, the sensitivity, specificity, NPV, and PPV of contrast enhanced ultrasound were 92.3 % (95 % CI = 75.9 - 97.9 %), 100 % (95 % CI = 95.2 - 100 %), 97.4 % (95 % CI = 91.1 - 99.3 %), and 100 % (95 % CI = 86.2 - 100 %). CONCLUSION: Contrast-enhanced ultrasound with low mechanical index using Sonovue is a feasible tool in evaluating the response of hepatocellular carcinoma to radiofrequency ablation. Accuracy is comparable to 4-row spiral CT.
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