Accuracy of radiology in detection of hepatocellular carcinoma before liver transplantation

Gastroenterology. 1994 Nov;107(5):1425-9. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(94)90545-2.


Background/aims: Recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) depends on tumor size and number; the accuracy of radiology in detecting HCC is uncertain. This study compared tumor size at radiological and pathological examination in 30 patients with HCC who underwent OLT.

Methods: Pre-OLT radiology included ultrasonography (US), computerized tomography (CT), and hepatic angiography (HA). Sensitivity of radiology was calculated by comparison with pathology.

Results: Radiology missed HCC in two patients but showed five with small (< 4 cm) and eight with large (> 4 cm) lesions. Multicentricity was shown in 15 cases at radiological examination and 24 at pathological examination, including one incidental and 4 of 5 radiologically small HCC. Mean tumor bulk was 3.4, 74, 338, and 1375 cm3, respectively, in patients with incidental, small, large, and multicentric HCC at radiology. Sensitivities of US, CT, and HA in detection of HCC (and multicentricity) were 80% (16.6%), 86.6% (58.3%), and 90% (58.3%). No recurrence was found in patients with incidental or small HCC; even when multicentric.

Conclusions: US, CT, and HA identified patients with small or large tumor bulk, but sensitivity in detecting satellites was poor; their finding in patients with radiologically small or incidental tumors does not affect outcome. The failure of US, CT, and HA to detect satellites must be considered in patients undergoing partial hepatectomy for HCC.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery
  • Female
  • Hepatic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography