Value of Bone Scans in Work-up of Patients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma for Liver Transplant

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Abstract

Background

The purpose of this study was to review the value of bone scans (BS) in the assessment of bone metastases from early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients assessed or waiting for liver transplant (LTx).

Methods

We reviewed BS studies performed at our center for patients with early-stage HCC either being assessed for LTx, or on the waiting list for LTx, from January 2010 to May 2017. The BS findings were classified as positive, equivocal, or negative. Correlation with final outcome based on clinical and radiological follow-up was performed.

Results

There were 360 BS performed in 186 patients during the study period with a mean age of 58.7 years (range, 34.9-70.4 years) and most were male patients (161/186 [86.6%]). None of the BSs resulted in delisting of patients from the LTx waiting list. Three BSs were reported as positive for metastases. All 3 were proven to be false positives on follow-up. Fourteen studies reported equivocal findings, none of which were confirmed to be metastases on follow-up. There was 1 false-negative BS: a bone metastasis was detected incidentally on magnetic resonance imaging and proven on biopsy.

Conclusions

We have demonstrated that the diagnostic yield of BS in early HCC patients who are candidates for LTx is minimal, challenging the current inclusion of BS in guidelines for staging these HCC patients.

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