Purpose: To assess the Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) and radiomic features in pretreatment magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for predicting progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with nodular hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with radiofrequency (RF) ablation.
Material and methods: Sixty-five therapy-naïve patients with 85 nodular HCC tumors <5 cm in size were included in this Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant, institutional review board-approved, retrospective study. All patients underwent RF ablation as first-line treatment and demonstrated complete response on the first follow-up imaging. Gadolinium-enhanced MR imaging biomarkers were analyzed for LI-RADS features by 2 board-certified radiologists or by analysis of nodular and perinodular radiomic features from 3-dimensional segmentations. A radiomic signature was calculated with the most informative features of a least absolute shrinkage and selection operator Cox regression model using leave-one-out cross-validation. The association between both LI-RADS features and radiomic signatures with PFS was assessed via the Kaplan-Meier analysis and a weighted log-rank test.
Results: The median PFS was 19 months (95% confidence interval, 16.1-19.4) for a follow-up period of 24 months. Multifocality (P = .033); the appearance of capsular continuity, compared with an absent or discontinuous capsule (P = .012); and a higher radiomic signature based on nodular and perinodular features (P = .030) were associated with poorer PFS in early-stage HCC. The observation size, presence of arterial hyperenhancement, nonperipheral washout, and appearance of an enhancing "capsule" were not associated with PFS (P > .05).
Conclusions: Although multifocal HCC clearly indicates a more aggressive phenotype even in early-stage disease, the continuity of an enhancing capsule and a higher radiomic signature may add value as MR imaging biomarkers for poor PFS in HCC treated with RF ablation.
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