Radiofrequency thermal ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma: Using contrast-enhanced harmonic power Doppler sonography to assess treatment outcome

D. Cioni, R. Lencioni, S. Rossi, F. Garbagnati, F. Donati, L. Crocetti, C. Bartolozzi

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OBJECTIVE. We evaluated the accuracy of contrast-enhanced harmonic power Doppler sonography in assessing the outcome of radiofrequency thermal ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Fifty patients with 65 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules (1-5 cm in diameter; mean diameter, 2.5 cm) were studied using unenhanced and contrast-enhanced harmonic power Doppler sonography before and after IV administration of a microbubble contrast agent. The examinations were repeated after treatment of the tumors with radiofrequency ablation. Findings of the Doppler studies were compared with those of dualphase helical CT, which were used as points of reference for assessing treatment outcome. RESULTS. Before radiofrequency treatment, intratumoral blood flow was revealed by unenhanced power Doppler sonography in 48 (74%) of 65 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules. After injection of the contrast agent intratumoral enhancement was observed in 61 (94%) of 65 hepatocellular carcinomas (p<0.01). After radiofrequency treatment, all 51 (84%) of the 61 hepatocellular carcinomas found to be necrotic on helical CT scans failed to show enhancement on power Doppler sonograms. In nine of the 10 lesions that showed a residual viable tumor on helical CT scans, persistent intratumoral enhancement - matching the enhancing areas on helical CT images - was revealed by power Doppler sonography. These nine hepatocellular carcinomas were subjected to repeated radiofrequency thermal ablation with the guidance of contrast-enhanced power Doppler sonography. Complete necrosis was seen after the second treatment session in six of the nine lesions. CONCLUSION. Contrast-enhanced harmonic power Doppler sonography is an accurate technique for assessing the outcome of radiofrequency thermal ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma and may be useful in guiding additional treatment in patients with incomplete response to initial efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-788
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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