Ecografia splenica con mezzo di contrasto in tempo reale: Metodologia d'esame ed esperienza clinica preliminare

Translated title of the contribution: Real-time contrast-enhanced ultrasound of the spleen: Examination technique and preliminary clinical experience

Orlando Catalano, Roberto Lobianco, Fabio Sandomenico, Gesualdo D'Elia, Alfredo Siani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. To report our preliminary experience in the evaluation of the spleen using a real-time contrast-specific ultrasound module in combination with a second-generation contrast agent. Materials and methods. In a 7-month period, 55 patients (34 males and 21 females, aged 5-77 years) with spleen disorders were evaluated by means of contrast-enhanced ultrasound. Two patients were studied because of baseline evidence of an accessory spleen and both underwent ultrasound follow-up. Twenty-five patients were studied for abdominal trauma and results were correlated with those of helical CT. Three patients were examined for suspected splenic infarction and for all CT correlation was obtained. Finally, twenty-five subjects were examined for focal diseases, such as lymphomas (17 cases) and focal lesions (8 cases); contrast-enhanced US results were correlated with those of CT (8 cases), MRI (2 cases), ultrasound follow-up (8 cases), biopsy (2 cases) or splenectomy (1 case). After an initial baseline study, the contrast-enhanced examinations were carried out using a dedicated unit equipped with a continuous contrast-specific module at low acoustic pressure. The examination started immediately after rapid contrast injection and lasted approximately 4 minutes. In the comparison between baseline and contrast-enhanced ultrasound, the following aspects were considered: detection rate of parenchymal changes, lesion extent (equal to CT, under- or overestimated), and lesion conspicuity (lesion-to-parenchyma gradient, from 0= absent to 3 = high). Results. In the 2 patients with accessory spleen, an enhancement very similar to that of the adjacent parenchyma was present and a small vascular pedicle was noted. Among the trauma patients, 18 had a direct splenic injury and one showed splenic contraction and hypoperfusion due to shock. In 74% of cases, a peritoneal effusion was demonstrated both with baseline and contrast-enhanced ultrasound; perisplenic blood collections (58% of cases) were identified in 42% of patients by both baseline and contrast-enhanced ultrasound; post-traumatic infarction was always revealed by contrast-enhanced ultrasound (11% of cases) but never by baseline ultrasound; parenchymal injuries were detected with a sensitivity of 63% by baseline ultrasound and a sensitivity of 89% by contrast-enhanced ultrasound. Moreover, contrast-enhanced ultrasound revealed findings undetectable on conventional ultrasound: global splenic hypoperfusion in 2 cases (due to shock in one and pedicle avulsion in the other), intraparenchymal contrast collections in 21% of positive cases (as confirmed by CT), extrasplenic contrast leakage in 1 of 2 cases demonstrated by CT. Of the 3 cases of splenic infarction, baseline sonography only only identified two, whereas the contrast-enhanced examination clearly identified three. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound revealed 35 of 39 focal lesions in patients studied for Hodgkin's disease and splenic focal lesions. Baseline ultrasound had a lower sensitivity (23 lesions). Lesion extension shown by contrast-enhanced sonography was equivalent to that provided by standard methods in 88% of cases (underestimated in 9% and overestimated in 3%) ; baseline US correctly estimated lesion size in 52% of cases, under- and overestimating them in 35% and 13% of cases, respectively. Lesion conspicuity was graded as 1 (low) in 16%, 2 (moderate) in 67%, and 3 (high) in 17% of the cases identified by enhanced sonography. Baseline ultrasound was less effective: conspicuity was graded as 1 in 42%, 2 in 39%, and 3 in 19% of cases. Conclusions. The spleen is the ideal organ to be studied with second-generation contrast media due to its superficial location, high vascularity, small size and homogeneous texture. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is a simple, poorly-invasive and accurate tool for the evaluation of splenic disorders. If our data are confirmed, it will be possible to reduce the use of more complex technologies such as CT and MRI.

Translated title of the contributionReal-time contrast-enhanced ultrasound of the spleen: Examination technique and preliminary clinical experience
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)338-356
Number of pages19
JournalRadiologia Medica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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