• image-guided therapy;
  • tumor ablation;
  • contrast enhancement;
  • MRI;
  • subtraction



To evaluate the value of subtraction images when using MRI to assess liver tumors treated with percutaneous ablation.

Materials and Methods:

Following percutaneous ablation of 35 liver tumors, two abdominal radiologists, blinded to outcomes, independently reviewed follow-up MRI examinations for tumoral enhancement suggestive of residual/recurrent tumor and rated their confidence level. After one year, the readers reviewed the same examinations with added subtraction images. Accuracy of the detection of residual/recurrent tumor and contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR; for tumoral enhancement-to-liver, tumoral enhancement-to-ablation zone, and ablation zone-to-liver) were calculated with and without subtraction images and compared using Wilcoxon signed rank test. Interobserver variability was computed using Kappa (κ) statistics.


Residual/recurrent tumor was present in 8 (23.5%) of 34 tumors. Accuracy of detecting residual/recurrent tumor with subtraction images and interobserver agreement (κ = 0.72, good) were better than accuracy of detecting residual/recurrent tumor and interobserver agreement (κ = 0.57, moderate) of enhanced MR images without subtraction. Mean CNR of subtraction images was significantly higher than that of enhanced MR images for tumoral enhancement-to-liver (0.2 ± 5 versus 11.6 ± 14.4, P = 0.03), tumoral enhancement-to-ablation zone (10.1 ± 12.5 versus 34.4 ± 29.4, P = 0.02), and ablation zone-to-liver (11.8 ± 13.3 versus 102.5 ± 238.4, P = 0.03).


When using MRI, subtraction images help both detect and exclude residual/recurrent tumor following percutaneous liver ablations. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2013;37:407–413. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.