Varying appearances of cholangiocarcinoma: radiologic-pathologic correlation

Radiographics. 2009 May-Jun;29(3):683-700. doi: 10.1148/rg.293085729.


Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is the second most common primary hepatic tumor. Various risk factors have been reported for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and the radiologic and pathologic findings of this disease entity may differ depending on the underlying risk factors. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma can be classified into three types on the basis of gross morphologic features: mass-forming (the most common), periductal infiltrating, and intraductal growth. At computed tomography (CT), mass-forming intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma usually appears as a homogeneous low-attenuation mass with irregular peripheral enhancement and can be accompanied by capsular retraction, satellite nodules, and peripheral intrahepatic duct dilatation. Periductal infiltrating cholangiocarcinoma is characterized by growth along the dilated or narrowed bile duct without mass formation. At CT and magnetic resonance imaging, diffuse periductal thickening and increased enhancement can be seen with a dilated or irregularly narrowed intrahepatic duct. Intraductal cholangiocarcinoma may manifest with various imaging patterns, including diffuse and marked ductectasia either with or without a grossly visible papillary mass, an intraductal polypoid mass within localized ductal dilatation, intraductal castlike lesions within a mildly dilated duct, and a focal stricture-like lesion with mild proximal ductal dilatation. Awareness of the underlying risk factors and morphologic characteristics of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is important for accurate diagnosis and for differentiation from other hepatic tumorous and nontumorous lesions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / etiology
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / classification
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / etiology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / pathology
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / complications
  • Choledochal Cyst / complications
  • Clonorchiasis / complications
  • Clonorchiasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed