Low Mechanical Index Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound Better Reflects High Arterial Perfusion of Liver Metastases Than Arterial Phase Computed Tomography

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Rationale and Objectives:We investigated whether observing the arterial vascularization of liver metastases by contrast-enhanced ultrasound with low mechanical index (low-MI) imaging offers additional diagnostic information for the characterization of the liver lesions.Methods:Twenty nine patients with untreated liver metastases of different primaries were examined. Measurements were performed using a low frame rate, low-MI pulse inversion technique after injection of 2.4 mL SonoVue. The relative maximum signal intensity of the liver lesions related to the normal liver tissue was quantified. Ultrasound findings were compared with contrast-enhanced, dual-phase computed tomography (CT) using a pattern-based classification scheme.Results:Compared with contrast-enhanced CT, this modality better detects arterial perfusion. Metastases, even those usually considered hypovascularized, often showed homogeneous enhancement (66%) and higher arterial vascularization than normal liver tissue. CT did not show a comparable vascularization pattern (P < 0.001) or any similarly early signal intensity (P < 0.001).Conclusions:Contrast-enhanced CT may not be able to visualize short-lasting but large differences of the arterial perfusion of liver metastases, as does contrast-enhanced low-MI ultrasound. This offers new methods for their characterization and for monitoring of therapeutic effects.

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