Department of Radiology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
With the recent dramatic advances in diagnostic modalities, the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is primarily based on imaging. Ultrasound (US) plays a crucial role in HCC surveillance. Dynamic multiphasic multidetector-row CT (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are the standard diagnostic methods for the noninvasive diagnosis of HCC, which can be made based on hemodynamic features (arterial enhancement and delayed washout). The technical development of MDCT and MRI has made possible the fast scanning with better image quality and resolution, which enables an accurate CT hemodynamic evaluation of hepatocellular tumor, as well as the application of perfusion CT and MRI in clinical practice. Perfusion CT and MRI can measure perfusion parameters of tumor quantitatively and can be used for treatment response assessment to anti-vascular agents. Besides assessing the hemodynamic or perfusion features of HCC, new advances in MRI can provide a cellular information of HCC. Liver-specific hepatobiliary contrast agents, such as gadoxetic acid, give information regarding hepatocellular function or defect of the lesion, which improves lesion detection and characterization. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) of the liver provides cellular information of HCC and also has broadened its role in lesion detection, lesion characterization, and treatment response assessment to chemotherapeutic agents. In this article, we provide an overview of the state-of-the art imaging techniques of the liver and their clinical role in management of HCC.