Contrast-enhanced ultrasound of histologically proven liver hemangiomas


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Differentiation of small and atypical hemangiomas from other hepatic masses using imaging methods can be difficult, especially in patients with underlying malignant disease. Therefore, contrast-enhanced ultrasound was assessed in patients with histologically confirmed hemangiomas with respect to contrast-enhancing kinetics and tumor characteristics. In 58 patients with indeterminate hepatic lesions demonstrated with at least 2 imaging methods (ultrasound/computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound-guided liver biopsy revealed hemangioma. In all patients a hepatic neoplasm had been suspected because of underlying malignant disease (n = 41), liver cirrhosis (n = 15), or growth of the lesion (n = 2). All patients underwent nonlinear, low mechanical index real-time contrast-enhanced ultrasound scanning with bolus injections of SonoVue. Peripheral nodular arterial enhancement was detected in 43 patients (74%), whereas the typical metastatic peripheral rim-like enhancement was not observed at all. Strong homogenous arterial enhancement was found in 9 of 58 (16%) patients. In 6 patients (10%), the arterial contrast enhancement pattern could not be determined because of the very small size of the lesions or fibrotic nodules. Forty-five (78%) of the hemangiomas showed homogenous centripetal filling within 180 seconds. Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced ultrasound demonstrates typical hemangioma imaging characteristics, that is, peripheral nodular contrast enhancement and iris-diaphragm sign in a high percentage of patients with undetermined lesions. This technique may therefore improve noninvasive functional characterization and differentiation of hemangiomas. (HEPATOLOGY 2007;45:1139–1145.)