Protein induced by vitamin K absence-II (PIVKA-II) is a potential screening marker for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Limited data are available about its utility in discriminating neoplastic from regenerative nodules at ultrasonography (US) evaluation in cirrhotic patients. Aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic utility of PIVKA-II in cases showing liver nodules of uncertain diagnosis at US.
Ninety cirrhotics with US evidence of liver nodule(s) were enrolled. All patients underwent blood sampling within 1 week of US and were thereafter followed up. HCC was confirmed in 40/90 cases, and in all cases it was in a very early/early stage. All sera were tested for PIVKA-II and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) at the end of follow-up. PIVKA-II at a cut off of 60 mAU/mL was significantly associated with HCC at both univariate and multivariate analysis (P = .016 and P = .032, respectively). AFP at a cut off of 6.5 ng/mL was not associated with HCC at univariate analysis (P = .246). ROC curves showed that PIVKA-II had 60% sensitivity, 88% specificity, 80% positive predictive value (PPV), and 73% negative predictive value (NPV), whereas AFP had 67% sensitivity, 68% specificity, 63% PPV, and 72% NPV. AUROC curves showed that the combination of both biomarkers increased the diagnostic accuracy for HCC (AUC 0.76; sensitivity 70%, specificity 94%, PPV 91%, and NPV 79%).
In conclusion, PIVKA-II is a useful tool for the diagnostic definition of US-detected liver nodules in cirrhotic patients, and it provides high diagnostic accuracy for HCC when combined with AFP.