Background: Hepatobiliary phase (HBP) hypointense nodules without arterial phase hyperenhancement (APHE) at gadoxetic acid–enhanced MRI may indicate hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or nonmalignant cirrhosis-associated nodules. Purpose: To assess the distribution of pathologic diagnoses of HBP hypointense nodules without APHE at gadoxetic acid–enhance MRI and to evaluate clinical and imaging features in differentiating their histologic grades. Materials and Methods: This retrospective multicenter study included pathologic analysis–confirmed HBP hypointense nodules without APHE (≤30 mm) in patients with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis screened between January 2008 and June 2016. Central pathologic review by 10 pathologists determined final histologic grades as progressed HCC, early HCC, high-grade dysplastic nodule (DN), and low-grade DN or regenerative nodule. Gadoxetic acid–enhanced MRI features were analyzed by three radiologists. Multivariable logistic regression analyses with elastic net regularization were performed to identify clinical and imaging features for differentiating histologic grades. Results: There were 298 patients (mean age, 59 years 6 10; 226 men) with 334 nodules evaluated, and progressed HCCs were diagnosed in 44.0% (147 of 334), early HCCs in 20.4% (68 of 334), high-grade DNs in 27.5% (92 of 334), and low-grade DNs or regenerative nodules in 8.1% (27 of 334). Serum a-fetoprotein level 100 ng/mL or greater (odds ratio, 2.7; P = .01) and MRI features including well-defined margin (odds ratio, 5.5; P = .003), hypointensity at precontrast T1-weighted imaging (odds ratio, 3.2; P , .001), intermediate hyperintensity at T2-weighted imaging (odds ratio, 3.4; P , .001), and restricted diffusion (odds ratio, 1.9; P = .04) were independent predictors for progressed HCC at multivariable analysis. Conclusion: In patients at high risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), hepatobiliary phase hypointense nodules without arterial phase hyperenhancement at gadoxetic acid–enhanced MRI corresponded mainly to progressed HCCs, early HCCs, and high-grade dysplastic nodules. High a-fetoprotein level and some imaging features at MRI helped to differentiate progressed HCC from lower grade nodules.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging