Efficacy and safety of high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation for hepatocellular carcinoma by changing the acoustic environment: microbubble contrast agent (SonoVue) and transcatheter arterial chemoembolization

Int J Hyperthermia. 2019;36(1):244-252. doi: 10.1080/02656736.2018.1558290. Epub 2019 Jan 22.


Objective: To compare efficacy and safety of microbubble contrast agent (SonoVue) and transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) in combination with high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods: According to our inclusion criteria, we retrospectively reviewed 52 patients with HCCs, and divided them into SonoVue group and TACE group. Tumors were examined by enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Change of lesions, alpha-fetoprotein values, hepatic and renal function were measured pre- and postoperatively. Then, adverse events were observed and clinical follow-up was performed.

Results: Clinical efficacy and the majority of treatment parameters were similar, except for time and energy required for the first massive grey-scale changes in SonoVue group, which were significantly lower than those in TACE group (p < .05). For adverse events, only rate of fever (3.85%) in SonoVue group was significantly lower than that in TACE group (50.00%, p < .05). The 'diagnosis and treatment cycle' in SonoVue group (11.5 ± 2.9) was remarkably shorter than TACE group (22.7 ± 6.3, p < .05). Energy efficiency factor was positively correlated with distance from the deepest layer of lesion to the hepatic capsule or to the abdominal wall in SonoVue group, while that was negatively correlated with iodized oil deposition in TACE group.

Conclusion: Using microbubble (SonoVue) in HIFU procedure has a similar therapeutic effect compared with TACE, and does not increase the risk of treatment. It might present a new strategy in clinical treatment, especially for patients with a smaller diameter of HCC.

Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma; SonoVue; high-intensity focused ultrasound; transcatheter arterial chemoembolization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Contrast Media / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Ablation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Microbubbles / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Contrast Media