Early heterogeneous enhancement of the liver: Magnetic resonance imaging findings and clinical significance

Masayuki Kanematsu, Maria I. Danet, Polytimi Leonardou, Maria Mastropasqua, Maria A. Mosetti, Larissa Braga, John T. Woosley, Richard C. Semelka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate and assess the radiologic, serological, and histopathologic findings in patients who presented with early heterogeneous enhancement (EHE) on gadolinium-enhanced early-phase magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the liver. Materials and Methods: We searched our radiologic records of MRI of the liver from July 1999 to April 2002 to identify patients with EHE. Three investigators retrospectively evaluated in consensus the MR images in each patient for intensity and characteristic of EHE blinded to clinical information. Serological laboratory values and clinical information were obtained in all patients, and histologic findings were available in 19. Results: We identified 67 patients with EHE. Of them, 62 patients (93%) had underlying chronic liver disease. Twenty-seven patients had viral hepatitis, 13 had alcohol abuse, 6 had primary sclerosing cholangitis, and the others had miscellaneous etiologies. The five patients without chronic liver disease had the following clinical histories: concurrent chemotherapy for extrahepatic malignancy (two patients), concurrent intraabdominal infection (one), and no known associated disease (two). Intensity of EHE was intense in 6 (9%), moderate in 22 (33%), and mild in 39 (58%). Pattern of EHE was geographic in 15 patients (22%), patchy in 37 (55%), and miliary in 15 (22%). All EHE showed rapid fading on postcontrast late-phase images. EHE showed mild to moderate hyperintensity on T2-weighted images in 30 patients (45%). In the 19 patients with histological correlation, 19 (100%) had hepatocellular necrosis, 19 (100%) had fibrosis, 18 (95%) had inflammatory cell infiltration, 17 (89%) had capillary-size vessels within fibrous septa, and 16 (84%) had ductal proliferation. No statistical correlation was found between the intensity or pattern of EHE on MR images and the extent of elevation of serological laboratory values or severity of histologic findings. Conclusion: Several different types of underlying chronic liver disease were observed in most of the patients with EHE. Hepatocyte necrosis, fibrosis, or inflammatory processes were found in all patients with EHE who had histopathological correlation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Contrast enhancement
  • Gadolinium
  • Liver
  • MR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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