Dual-Phase Spiral CT Angiography with Volumetric 3D Rendering for Preoperative Liver Transplant Evaluation: Preliminary Observations

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Abstract

Purpose:

The goal of our study was to determine whether dual-phase spiral CT angiography with 3D volume rendering could be used for preoperative evaluation and patient selection for orthotopic liver transplantation candidates.

Method:

Fifty consecutive potential candidates for liver transplantation were evaluated with dual-phase spiral CT with 3D volume rendering. Intravenous contrast medium was administered as bolus peripheral injection at 3 ml/s. The protocol consisted of a contrast-enhanced dual-phase spiral CT (arterial phase acquisition at 30 s after initiation of contrast medium injection followed by portal venous phase beginning at 60 s) with scan parameters of 0.75 s gantry rotation speed, 3 mm collimation, 5 to 6 mm/s table speed, and reconstruction at 1 mm intervals for arterial-phase images and 3 mm collimation for portal venous-phase studies (Siemens Plus 4 scanner; Siemens Medical Systems, Iselin, NJ, U.S.A.). All scan information was sent to a free-standing workstation (Silicon Graphics Onyx or Infinite Reality, Mountain View, CA, U.S.A.) for interactive real-time 3D volume rendering using a customized version of the Volren volume renderer (Silicon Graphics; Advanced Imaging Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.). The arterial phase was used to create vascular maps of the celiac axis including the origin(s) of the hepatic artery and origin of the superior mesenteric artery. The portal phase was used to define portal venous patency as well as the hepatic venous anatomy. All images were analyzed for vascular patency, shunting, or collateralization as well as the status of the underlying liver (i.e., liver size, cirrhosis, tumor, etc.).

Results:

All 50 studies were successfully completed without complication. The 3D CT angiograms defined key arterial and venous structures including origin(s) of the hepatic artery, portal vein and/or superior mesenteric vein thrombosis, cavernous transformation of the portal vein, and/or other collateral vasculature. Ten patients (20%) demonstrated anomalous anatomy at the origin(s) of the hepatic artery.Portal vein thrombosis with cavernous transformation of the portal vein was shown in six patients, and there were three cases of partial venous thrombosis. Underlying liver tumors as well as parenchymal liver disease were well defined. Hepatic masses were found in five patients. Masses were pathologically proven as hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 1), giant cavernous hemangioma (n = 1), hepatic adenoma (n = 1), and focal nodular hyperplasia (n = 2).

Conclusion:

Preliminary results suggest that dual-phase spiral CT with CT angiography can provide a comprehensive preoperative liver transplant evaluation, supplying the necessary information for patient selection and surgical planning. As a single, minimally invasive examination, this should significantly impact patient care by minimizing procedures and avoiding potential complications.

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