PURPOSE: To explore the potential use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in predicting the outcome for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), imaging characteristics were correlated with pathological findings and clinical outcome. MATERIALS AND METHODS: With permission from the Ethical Board, clinical data and tissues of resected HCC patients were collected, including the preoperative MRI. The role of MRI characteristics on recurrence and survival were evaluated with univariate and multivariate analyses. RESULTS: Between January 2000 and December 2008, 87 patients with 104 HCCs were operated on. Microvascular invasion was present in 55 lesions (53%). HCC was characterized as well differentiated in 15 lesions (14%), as moderate in 50 lesions (48%), and as poorly differentiated in 34 lesions (33%). Due to preoperative treatment in five lesions (5%) no vital tumor was left. In 85 lesions (88%) washout of contrast was noted. Of the 87 patients, 28 (32%) with 37 lesions developed HCC recurrence; these patients had microvascular invasion significantly more often and a moderate or poorly differentiated tumor (P < 0.001 and P = 0.025, respectively). MRI more often showed washout when HCC was moderately or poorly differentiated (P < 0.001) or microvascular invasion was present (P = 0.032). CONCLUSION: Differentiation grade and microvascular invasion are significantly associated with the presence of washout demonstrated on dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI.
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