Diffusion-weighted imaging for identifying patients at high risk of tumor recurrence following liver transplantation

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Background: Tumor recurrence is the major risk factor affecting post-transplant survival. In this retrospective study, we evaluate the prognostic values of magnetic resonance (MR) diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: From April 2014 to September 2016, 106 HCC patients receiving living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) were enrolled. Nine patients were excluded due to postoperative death within 3 months and incomplete imaging data. The association between tumor recurrence, explant pathologic findings, and DWI parameters was analyzed (tumor-to-liver diffusion weighted imaging ratio, DWIT/L; apparent diffusion coefficients, ADC). The survival probability was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: Sixteen of 97 patients (16%) developed tumor recurrence during the follow-up period (median of 40.9 months; range 5.2-56.5). In those with no viable tumor (n = 65) on pretransplant imaging, recurrence occurred only in 5 (7.6%) patients. Low minimum ADC values (p = 0.001), unfavorable tumor histopathology (p < 0.001) and the presence of microvascular invasion (p < 0.001) were risk factors for tumor recurrence, while ADCmean (p = 0.111) and DWIT/L (p = 0.093) showed no significant difference between the groups. An ADCmin ≤ 0.88 × 10- 3 mm2/s was an independent factor associated with worse three-year recurrence-free survival (94.4% vs. 23.8%) and overall survival rates (100% vs. 38.6%). Conclusions: Quantitative measurement of ADCmin is a promising prognostic indicator for predicting tumor recurrence after liver transplantation.




Chuang, Y. H., Ou, H. Y., Yu, C. Y., Chen, C. L., Weng, C. C., Tsang, L. L. C., … Cheng, Y. F. (2019). Diffusion-weighted imaging for identifying patients at high risk of tumor recurrence following liver transplantation. Cancer Imaging, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40644-019-0264-y

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