Objective: The objective of this study was to compare CT and sonography for monitoring radiofrequency (RF) lesions in porcine livers.
Subjects and methods: RF lesions (n = 12) were created in three pig livers by applying 13 min of current to a multielectrode RF probe with a target temperature of 95 degrees C. Helical unenhanced CT and corresponding axial sonography were performed before ablation, at 2 min, 8 min, and immediately after ablation. Contrast-enhanced CT was performed after ablation. CT scans and sonograms were evaluated by blinded observers for conspicuity of the RF lesion, edge detection (visibility of liver-lesion interface), and artifacts. Hounsfield units were recorded at every time interval, and radiologic-pathologic correlation for lesion size and configuration was performed.
Results: Mean size of RF lesions was 3. 03 +/- 0.9 cm. On CT, RF lesions had consistently lower attenuation values than surrounding liver (22.2 H lower than liver at 8 min, p < 0.0001). Echogenicity was variable with sonography (hypoechoic = 59%, hyperechoic = 25%, isoechoic = 16%). Unenhanced CT significantly improved conspicuity, edge detection of RF lesions, and decreased artifacts compared with sonography (p < 0.05). Contrast-enhanced CT improved RF lesion detection, border discrimination, and artifacts compared with sonography (p < 0.05). Unenhanced CT had the best correlation to pathologic size (r = 0.74), followed by contrast-enhanced CT (r = 0.72) and sonography (r = 0.56). Contrast-enhanced CT best correlated with lesion shape, but slightly overestimated size because of areas of ischemia peripheral to the RF lesion.
Conclusion: In this animal model, unenhanced CT was an effective way to monitor RF ablation compared with sonography because of increased lesion discrimination, reproducible decreased attenuation during ablation, and improved correlation to pathologic size.