Background: The surgical indication for non-hypervascular hypointense nodules (NHVN) detected incidentally on gadolinium-ethoxybenzyl-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (Gd-EOB-MRI) for classical hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is unknown. Our aim is to clarify the long-term outcomes in patients with this finding.
Methods: We reviewed the cases of 290 HCC patients, including 66 patients with NHVN, who underwent Gd-EOB-MRI prior to hepatectomy, between October 2008 and December 2017 at our center. We divided the patients into three groups: a no-NHVN group, a treated NHVN group, and an untreated NHVN group.
Results: There was no significant difference in (RFS) or overall survival (OS) between the no-NHVN and untreated NHVN groups (p = 0.103 and 0.103, respectively). There was no significant difference between these two groups after propensity score matching. Multivariate analyses showed that microscopic intrahepatic metastases and the size of the main classical HCC, the target tumor, were independent prognostic factors of overall survival, but the presence of non-hypervascular hypointense nodules was not. There was no significant difference in RFS or OS between the treated NHVN and untreated NHVN groups (p = 0.158 and 0.109, respectively).
Conclusions: Non-hypervascular hypointense nodules detected incidentally on Gd-EOB-MRI associated with targeted hypervascular HCC did not reflect prognosis of HCC after hepatectomy. Surgical procedures for classical enhancing HCC may be performed even if non-hypervascular hypointense nodules adjacent to the targeted HCC cannot be removed completely.