Objective: The purpose of our study was to compare the combination of conventional spin-echo, phase-shift gradient-recalled echo (GRE), and triple-phasic dynamic GRE MR imaging with the combination of helical CT hepatic arteriography (CTA) and CT performed during arterial portography (CTAP) in the preoperative detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Materials and methods: Thirty-seven patients with cirrhosis underwent MR imaging and angiographically assisted CT imaging. Paired T1- and T2-weighted spin-echo images, paired in-phase and out-of-phase GRE images, triple-phasic dynamic GRE images, the combined MR images, and the paired CTA and CTAP images were retrospectively and independently reviewed by three radiologists. Image review was done on a segment-by-segment basis. Of the 280 liver segments, 58 segments contained 79 HCCs that were 0.5-8.0 cm (mean, 2.0 cm) in diameter. The diagnostic value of each pair of images was rated by means of receiver operating characteristic curve analysis.
Results: The diagnostic accuracy of combined CTA and CTAP (mean area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [Az] = 0.94) was significantly better than that of spin-echo (Az = 0.86, p < .0001), phase-shift GRE (Az = 0.83, p < .0001), dynamic GRE (Az = 0.85, p < .0001), and all combined (Az = 0.91, p < .001) MR imaging. The relative sensitivity of combined CTA and CTAP (89%) was also significantly (p < .0005) better than that of the combined MR imaging (75%).
Conclusion: Angiographically assisted helical CT imaging was superior to MR imaging combined with conventional spin-echo, phase-shift GRE, and triple-phasic dynamic GRE techniques in the detection of HCC in patients with cirrhosis. The noninvasive dedicated combined MR imaging could not obviate invasive angiographically assisted CT imaging. Combined CTA and CTAP is recommended, especially in the preoperative examination of patients with HCC.