MR Imaging Biomarkers for the Prediction of Outcome after Radiofrequency Ablation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Qualitative and Quantitative Assessments of the Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System and Radiomic Features

J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2022 Jul;33(7):814-824.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2022.04.006. Epub 2022 Apr 20.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / surgery
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Contrast Media
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Biomarkers
  • Contrast Media