Objective: This study was performed to evaluate the usefulness of contrast-enhanced coded phase-inversion harmonic sonography in assessing the therapeutic response of percutaneous radiofrequency ablation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Subjects and methods: Sixty-seven patients with a total of 107 examinations on 91 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules underwent coded harmonic angio, a technique of coded phase-inversion harmonic sonography, using the IV microbubble contrast agent Levovist before and after percutaneous radiofrequency ablation. The intratumoral blood vessels and tumor parenchymal stain were detected in the early arterial phase and the late vascular phase, respectively. The results of contrast-enhanced imaging with coded harmonic angio were compared with those of three-phase dynamic CT.
Results: Before treatment, all examined 107 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules were found to be hypervascular on contrast-enhanced imaging with coded harmonic angio. After radiofrequency ablation, contrast-enhanced coded harmonic angio detected persistent signal enhancement in 41 examined nodules (38.3%), whereas this technique showed no intratumoral enhancement in the remaining 66 (61.7%) examined nodules. Compared with dynamic CT, the sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy of contrast-enhanced coded harmonic angio were 95.3%, 100%, and 98.1%, respectively. With contrast-enhanced coded harmonic angio, we found that it was difficult to identify the safety margin that can be detected on dynamic CT.
Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced imaging with coded harmonic angio may provide an alternative approach that has high diagnostic agreement with dynamic CT in assessing the therapeutic effect of radiofrequency ablation in hypervascular hepatocellular carcinomas, in spite of having limitations in identifying the safety margin.