Evaluation of quantitative contrast harmonic imaging to assess malignancy of liver tumors: a prospective controlled two-center study

World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Dec 21;13(47):6356-64. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i47.6356.


Aim: To establish the extent to which contrast enhancement with SonoVue in combination with quantitative evaluation of contrast-medium dynamics facilitates the detection of hepatic tumors.

Methods: One hundred patients with histologically confirmed malignant or benign hepatic tumor (maximum size 5 cm) were analyzed. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (bolus injection 2.5 mL SonoVue) was carried out with intermittent breath-holding technique using a multifrequency transducer (2.5-4 MHz). Native vascularization was analyzed with power Doppler. The contrast-enhanced dynamic ultrasound investigation was carried out with contrast harmonic imaging in true detection mode during the arterial, portal venous and late phases. Mechanical index was set at 0.15. Perfusion analysis was performed by post-processing of the raw data [time intensity curve (TIC) analysis]. The cut-off of the gray value differences between tumor and normal liver tissue was established using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis 64-line multi-slice computed tomography served as reference method in all cases. Magnetic resonance tomography was used additionally in 19 cases.

Results: One hundred patients with 59 malignant (43 colon, 5 breast, 2 endocrine metastases, 7 hepatocellular carcinomas and 2 kidney cancers) and 41 benign (15 hemangiomas, 7 focal nodular hyperplasias, 5 complicated cysts, 2 abscesses and 12 circumscribed fatty changes) tumors were included. The late venous phase proved to be the most sensitive for classification of the tumor type. Fifty-eight of the 59 malignant tumors were classified as true positive, and one as false negative. This resulted in a sensitivity of 98.3%. Of the 41 benign tumors, 37 were classified as true negative and 4 as false negative, which corresponds to a specificity of 90.2%. Altogether, 95.0% of the diagnoses were classified as correct on the basis of the histological classification. No investigator-dependency (P = 0.23) was noted.

Conclusion: The results show the possibility of accurate prediction of malignancy of hepatic tumors with a positive prognostic value of 93.5% using advanced contrast-enhanced ultrasound. Contrast enhancement with SonoVue in combination with quantitative evaluation of contrast-medium dynamics is a valuable tool to discriminate hepatic tumors.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Contrast Media*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Phospholipids*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride*
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*


  • Contrast Media
  • Phospholipids
  • contrast agent BR1
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride