Hepatocellular carcinomas <2 cm in diameter complicating cirrhosis: ultrasound and clinical features in 153 consecutive patients
Article first published online: 1 APR 2004
Volume 24, Issue 2, pages 124–130, April 2004
How to Cite
Rapaccini, G. L., Pompili, M., Caturelli, E., Covino, M., Lippi, M. E., Beccaria, S., Cedrone, A., Riccardi, L., Siena, D. A. and Gasbarrini, G. (2004), Hepatocellular carcinomas <2 cm in diameter complicating cirrhosis: ultrasound and clinical features in 153 consecutive patients. Liver International, 24: 124–130. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2004.0903.x
- Issue published online: 1 APR 2004
- Article first published online: 1 APR 2004
- Received 25 August 2003, accepted 3 December 2003
- microscopic features;
- small hepatocellular carcinoma;
- ultrasound pattern
Abstract: Purpose: To determine the frequencies of various echogenicity patterns in 153 consecutive unifocal hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) <2 cm detected in cirrhotic livers and to identify their relationships with clinical, laboratory, and microscopic features.
Patients and methods: The tumors were classified as hypoechoic, hyperechoic, isoechoic, or nodule-in-nodule. Correlation was evaluated between hypoechoic and hyperechoic patterns and the following variables: age, gender, serum alphafetoprotein (AFP), tumor size, ultrasound features of liver parenchyma, cirrhosis etiology, and cyto/histological tumor grading.
Results: One hundred and seventeen tumors (76.4%) were hypoechoic, 26 (17.0%) were hyperechoic, 5 (3.3%) were isoechoic, and 5 (3.3%) had nodule-in-nodule patterns. The hyperechoic pattern was more common in patients under 69 years (25.0% vs. 11.3% in those under 69 years or older, P=0.033). Patients with a hyperechoic pattern displayed a trend towards lower AFP levels and higher prevalence of hepatitis C-related cirrhosis. The prevalence of well-differentiated tumors was identical (56.6% and 56.5%) in the hypoechoic and hyperechoic subgroups. AFP was higher than 400 ng/ml in only 11/153 cases (7.2%).
Conclusions: The hyperechoic pattern of HCC is by no means uncommon, particularly in patients under 70. Hyperechogenicity is not related to an increased frequency of well-differentiated tumors. AFP shows limited value as a confirmatory test of small HCC.