Management of hepatocellular carcinoma: The role of contrast-enhanced ultrasound

World J Radiol. 2014 Jan 28;6(1):7-14. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v6.i1.7.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the sixth most common neoplasm and the third cause of cancer death worldwide. Contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has been applied for more than ten years and plays increasingly important roles in the management of HCC. On the basis of the Guideline and Good Clinical Practice Recommendations for CEUS in the liver-update 2012 and related literature about the management of HCC, we summarize the main roles and applications of CEUS in the management of HCC, including HCC surveillance, diagnosis, CEUS-guided treatment, treatment response evaluation and follow-up. The diagnostic algorithm for HCC is also suggested. Meanwhile, the comparisons between CEUS and contrast enhanced computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (CECT/CEMRI) in these areas are made. Although CEUS is subject to the same limitation as ordinary US and is inferior to CECT/CEMRI in some aspects, CEUS has proved to be of great value in the management of HCC with inherent advantages, such as sufficient high safety profile making it suitable for patients with renal failure or allergic to iodine, absence of radiation, easy reproducibility and high temporal resolution. The tremendous application of CEUS to the diagnosis and treatment of HCC provides more opportunities for patients with HCC diagnosed at different stages.

Keywords: Contrast enhanced ultrasound; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Imaging; Sonography; Ultrasound contrast agent.

Publication types

  • Review