Value of delayed hypointensity and delayed enhancing rim in magnetic resonance imaging diagnosis of small hepatocellular carcinoma in the cirrhotic liver

Asra S. Khan, Hero K. Hussain, Timothy D. Johnson, William J. Weadock, Shawn J. Pelletier, Jorge A. Marrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine the diagnostic utility of delayed hypointensity and delayed enhancing rim on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as indicators of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in arterially enhancing nodules ≤5 cm in the cirrhotic liver and determine the features that best predict HCC. Materials and Methods: Gadolinium-enhanced MRI studies performed from January 2001 to December 2004 in patients with cirrhosis were evaluated for arterially enhancing nodules measuring ≤5 cm. Verification was via explant correlation, biopsy, or imaging follow-up. Sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic features of HCC were calculated. Features predictive of HCC were determined using the Generalized Estimating Equation approach. Results: In all, 116 arterially enhancing nodules were identified in 80 patients (<2 cm: n = 79, 2-5 cm n = 37). Sensitivity and specificity of delayed hypointensity for HCC measuring ≤5 cm, 2-5 cm, and <2 cm were 0.54 (40 of 74) and 0.86 (36 of 42); 0.72 (23 of 32) and 0.80 (4 of 5); and 0.41 (17 of 42) and 0.87 (32 of 37). For the delayed enhancing rim sensitivity and specificity were 0.64 (47 of 74) and 0.86 (36 of 42); 0.75 (24 of 32) and 1.0 (5 of 5); and 0.55 (23 of 42) and 0.83 (31 of 37), respectively. Lesion size (≥2 cm) and delayed enhancing rim, as main features and their interaction, were the most significant predictors of HCC. Conclusion: Delayed hypointensity and enhancing rim improve the specificity of diagnosis of HCC of all sizes but are seen less frequently in small (<2 cm) HCC. Nodule size (≥2 cm) and delayed enhancing rim are the strongest predictors of HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-366
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010



  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this