Liver metastases from pancreatic adenocarcinoma: MR imaging characteristics

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2003 Aug;18(2):181-8. doi: 10.1002/jmri.10337.


Purpose: To describe the magnetic resonance imaging spectrum of appearances of liver metastases from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively evaluated the MRI exams performed between July 1996 and August 2001 in all patients who had liver metastases from pancreatic adenocarcinoma and histopathologic diagnosis from either the primary pancreatic tumor, liver metastases, or both. Sixteen patients were included in the study. All MR studies were performed at 1.5 T with a standard protocol including T1- and T2-weighted images and serial post-gadolinium spoiled gradient echo (SGE) images. Location, size, number, signal characteristics on T1- and T2-weighted images, and pattern of enhancement on serial gadolinium-enhanced SGE images were assessed.

Results: The diameter of metastases ranged from a few millimetres to 4 cm, and 12 patients (75%) had only lesions of 1.5 cm or less. Capsular-based liver metastases were found in 13 patients (81%) and three patients had only capsular-based lesions with a diameter under 1.5 cm. Hypervascular lesions were found in six patients (38%) and hypovascular lesions in 10 patients (62%). Perilesional enhancement was present in 10 patients (62%), with six patients (38%) having ring perilesional enhancement and eight patients (50%) having wedge-shaped perilesional enhancement.

Conclusion: On MR imaging, hepatic metastases from pancreatic adenocarcinoma show a range of enhancement patterns. Hypervascular metastases are not rare. Capsular based distribution, small diameter, and perilesional enhancement are common features. This retrospective study describes the MR imaging spectrum of appearances of liver metastases from pancreatic adenocarcinoma in patients with histopathologic confirmation of the diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Gadolinium