Objectives: The LI-RADS M (LR-M) category describes hepatic lesions probably or definitely malignant, but not specific for hepatocellular carcinoma in at-risk patients. Differentiation among LR-M entities, particularly detecting cholangiocarcinoma-containing tumors (M-CCs), is essential for treatment and prognosis. Thus, we aimed to develop diagnostic models on gadoxetate disodium-enhanced MRI comprising serum tumor markers and LI-RADS imaging features for M-CC.
Methods: Consecutive at-risk patients with LR-M lesions exclusively (no co-existing LR-4 and/or LR-5 lesions) were retrieved retrospectively from a prospectively collected database spanning 3 years. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (c-HCC-CCA) were classified together as M-CC. LI-RADS features determined by three independent radiologists and clinically relevant serum tumor markers were used to generate M-CC diagnostic models through logistic regression analysis against histology. Per-patient performance was evaluated using area under the receiver operating curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity.
Results: Forty-five patients were included, 42.2% (19/45) with hepatocellular carcinoma, 33.3% (15/45) with ICC, 13.3% (6/45) with c-HCC-CCA, and 11.1% (5/45) with other hepatic lesions. Carbohydrate antigen (CA)19-9 > 38 U/mL, α-fetoprotein (AFP) > 4.8 ng/mL, and absence of the LI-RADS feature "blood products in mass" were significant predictors of M-CC. Combining three predictors demonstrated AUC of 0.862, sensitivity of 76%, and specificity of 88%. The risk of M-CC with all three criteria fulfilled was 98% (AUC, 0.690; sensitivity, 38%; specificity, 100%).
Conclusions: In at-risk patients with LR-M lesions, integrating CA19-9, AFP, and the LI-RADS feature "blood products in mass" achieved high diagnostic performance for M-CC. When all three criteria were fulfilled, the specificity for M-CC was 100%.
Key points: • In at-risk patients who had LR-M lesions exclusively (no concomitant LR-4/5 lesions), a model with carbohydrate antigen > 38 U/mL, α-fetoprotein > 4.8 ng/mL, and absence of the LI-RADS feature "blood products in mass" achieved high accuracy for diagnosing cholangiocarcinoma-containing tumors. • In patients of whom all three criteria were fulfilled, the specificity for M-CC was 100%, which might reduce or eliminate the need for biopsy confirmation.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Cholangiocarcinoma; Diagnosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Tumor.