Radiomic analysis of contrast-enhanced CT predicts microvascular invasion and outcome in hepatocellular carcinoma

J Hepatol. 2019 Jun;70(6):1133-1144. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2019.02.023. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Background & aims: Microvascular invasion (MVI) impairs surgical outcomes in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As there is no single highly reliable factor to preoperatively predict MVI, we developed a computational approach integrating large-scale clinical and imaging modalities, especially radiomic features from contrast-enhanced CT, to predict MVI and clinical outcomes in patients with HCC.

Methods: In total, 495 surgically resected patients were retrospectively included. MVI-related radiomic scores (R-scores) were built from 7,260 radiomic features in 6 target volumes. Six R-scores, 15 clinical factors, and 12 radiographic scores were integrated into a predictive model, the radiographic-radiomic (RR) model, with multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Radiomics related to tumor size and intratumoral heterogeneity were the top-ranked MVI predicting features. The related R-scores showed significant differences according to MVI status (p <0.001). Regression analysis identified 8 MVI risk factors, including 5 radiographic features and an R-score. The R-score (odds ratio [OR] 2.34) was less important than tumor capsule (OR 5.12), tumor margin (OR4.20), and peritumoral enhancement (OR 3.03). The RR model using these predictors achieved an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.909 in training/validation and 0.889 in the test set. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were significantly different between the RR-predicted MVI-absent and MVI-present groups (median PFS: 49.5 vs. 12.9 months; median OS: 76.3 vs. 47.3 months). RR-computed MVI probability, histologic MVI, tumor size, and Edmondson-Steiner grade were independently associated with disease-specific recurrence and mortality.

Conclusions: The computational approach, integrating large-scale clinico-radiologic and radiomic features, demonstrates good performance for predicting MVI and clinical outcomes. However, radiomics with current CT imaging analysis protocols do not provide statistically significant added value to radiographic scores.

Lay summary: The most effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is surgical removal of the tumor but often recurrence occurs, partly due to the presence of microvascular invasion (MVI). Lacking a single highly reliable factor able to preoperatively predict MVI, we developed a computational approach to predict MVI and the long-term clinical outcome of patients with HCC. In particular, the added value of radiomics, a newly emerging form of radiography, was comprehensively investigated. This computational method can enhance the communication with the patient about the likely success of the treatment and guide clinical management, with the aim of finding drugs that reduce the risk of recurrence.

Keywords: Clinical outcome; HCC; Liver imaging score; Microvascular invasion; Radiomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Microvessels / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media