Hepatocellular carcinoma in the cirrhotic liver: gadolinium-enhanced 3D T1-weighted MR imaging as a stand-alone sequence for diagnosis

Radiology. 2006 May;239(2):438-47. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2392050551.


Purpose: To retrospectively assess the usefulness of contrast material-enhanced T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging alone and with T2-weighted MR imaging in the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Materials and methods: A waiver of informed consent and institutional review board approval for this retrospective study were granted. The study was HIPAA compliant. Twenty-eight men (mean age, 49 years; range, 23-70 years) and 10 women (mean age, 53 years; range, 42-72 years) with cirrhosis underwent T2-weighted and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted MR imaging at 1.5 T within 90 days of liver transplantation. Three readers reviewed the T1-weighted images alone and then the T2-weighted and T1-weighted images together. Lesion detection, characterization, and reader confidence levels were recorded.

Results: At liver explantation, 57 lesions were present in 18 patients: 19 HCCs, 33 dysplastic nodules, and five cysts. Contrast-enhanced T1-weighted imaging depicted 13 of 19 HCCs with an overall sensitivity of 68.4% (13 of 19) and specificity of 65.7% (23 of 35). The sensitivity and specificity for detection of dysplastic nodules (sensitivity, 9%; specificity, 68.4%) and HCCs (sensitivity, 68.4%; specificity, 65.7%) were nearly identical for T1-weighted images read alone or read with T2-weighted images. The only difference was the specificity for T1-weighted images read alone (65.7%) and read with T2-weighted images (62.9%). The addition of T2-weighted images altered the diagnosis in one of 90 (1.1%) cases and provided an increase in diagnostic confidence in four of 258 (1.6%) cases for independent readers and three of 90 (3.3%) cases at consensus reading.

Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced T1-weighted imaging can be used as a stand-alone sequence for the diagnosis of HCC in patients with cirrhosis prior to liver transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA