Diagnostics and Staging
Imaging of Hepatocellular Carcinoma by Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging: State of the ArtZech C.J. · Reiser M.F. · Herrmann K.A.
Institute of Clinical Radiology, University Hospitals – Grosshadern, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany
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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a very frequent tumor worldwide. Its incidence is linked to the distribution of liver cirrhosis and viral hepatitis, which are the main risk factors for the development of HCC. For the evaluation of the cirrhotic liver and for the diagnosis of HCC, multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) proved to be a robust and reliable tool. In MDCT the diagnosis of HCC can be made based on neovascularization with increased arterial and decreased portal venous supply. With modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spatial resolution and robustness increased dramatically. Beside the evaluation of neovascularization by means of gadolinium-enhanced early dynamic MRI, the main advantages of MRI are additional information on tissue composition and liver-specific function. With diffusion-weighted imaging or plain T1- and T2-weighted sequences, different tissue elements like fat, hemorrhage, glycogen, edema and cellular density can be evaluated. Liver-specific contrast agents give insight into the Kupffer cell density or the hepatocellular function. The integration of all these parts into the MR examination allows for a very high detection rate for overt HCC nowadays, although very small HCCs are still a challenge. Moreover, insight into the different stages of hepatocarcinogenesis can be possible with MRI. Despite its limited availability in some countries, it has to be rendered to be the modality of choice for the distinct evaluation of the cirrhotic liver.
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