Source and clinical motivation of orders for contrast-enhanced sonography (CEUS) of the liver: A prospective single-center survey

O. Catalano, F. Sandomenico, A. Nunziata, P. Vallone, M. Mattace Raso, S. V. Setola, A. Gallipoli D'Errico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Contrast-enhanced sonography (CEUS) has become a routine part of diagnostic imaging of the liver. Its possibilities, limitations, and indications have been defined in adequately large clinical series and in guidelines and recommendations. We prospectively evaluated physicians' orders for hepatic CEUS received in the radiology department of a large oncology center in Naples, Italy from May 2009 to April 2010. Radiologists performing the CEUS examinations filled out a form that included patient demography, source and type of patient referral, and clinical indications for the examination. During the study period, 564 patients aged 17-86 years (mean, 58 years) were referred to our department for CEUS liver studies (total: 644; 491 outpatient studies, 153 inpatient studies). This included 4 examinations that were ordered by the patient's physician but not performed by our staff. The majority of the CEUS examinations (n = 583; 90.5%) were regularly scheduled procedures ordered by clinical specialists from our center (77.3%) or other centers (11.8%); by general practitioners (on their own initiative) (0.8%); or by other figures (0.6%). The remaining 61 examinations (9.5%) were unscheduled procedures done on the initiative of a radiologist following conventional sonography (US). Fewer than half (47.8%) of the examinations were requested as first-line assessments. The others were ordered to clarify inconclusive findings generated by conventional US (30%) or by a more sophisticated imaging study (CT, MRI, PET) (16.1%) or to resolve discrepancies between CT, MRI, and/or PET findings (6%). CEUS is a relatively noninvasive, low-cost imaging study that is simple to perform and requires no particular patient preparation. This may explain its increasing use to clarify doubts raised by conventional US and other more sophisticated imaging studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ultrasound
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011



  • Contrast-enhanced sonography
  • Focal liver lesions
  • Indications
  • Liver
  • Patient referral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Internal Medicine

Cite this