Indexed on: 28 Feb '18Published on: 27 Feb '18Published in: Cancer Imaging
Combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (cHCC-CC) is a rare primary liver tumor, which has overlapping imaging features with mass forming intra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Previous studies reported imaging features more closely resemble ICC and the aim of our study was to examine the differential MRI features of cHCC-CC and ICC with emphasis on enhancement pattern observations of gadolinium enhanced MRI.Institutional review board approval with consent waiver was obtained for this retrospective bi-centric study. Thirty-three patients with pathologically proven cHCC-CC and thirty-eight patients with pathologically proven ICC, who had pre-operative MRI, were identified. MRI images were analyzed for tumor location and size, T1 and T2 signal characteristics, the presence/absence of: cirrhosis, intra-lesional fat, hemorrhage/hemosiderin, scar, capsular retraction, tumor thrombus, biliary dilatation, degree of arterial enhancement, enhancement pattern, pseudocapsule and washout. Associations between MRI features and tumor type were examined using the Fisher’s exact and chi-square tests.Strong arterial phase enhancement and the presence of: washout, washout and progression, intra-lesional fat and hemorrhage were all strongly associated with cHCC-CC (P < 0.001). While cHCC-CC had a varied enhancement pattern, the two most common enhancement patterns were peripheral persistent (n = 6) and heterogeneous hyperenhancement with washout (n = 6), compared to ICC where the most common enhancement patterns were peripheral hypoenhancement with progression (n = 18) followed by heterogeneous hypoenhancement with progression (n = 14) (P < 0.001).The cHCC-CC enhancement pattern seems to more closely resemble HCC with the degree of arterial hyperenhancement and the presence of washout being valuable in differentiating cHCC-CC from ICC. However the presence of washout and progression, in the same lesion or a predominantly peripheral /rim hyperenhancing mass were also seen as important features that should alert the radiologist to the possibility of a cHCC-CC.