Department of Medicine and Clinical Oncology, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, Japan.
This prospective study was performed in 179 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) lesions treated by radio-frequency ablation (RFA) to explore the clinical outcome of "linear enhancement" on contrast-enhanced sonogram. Thirty-three lesions (18.4%) showed linear enhancement, a linear-shaped positive enhancement in the RFA-treated area. Seventeen of them were followed up with no treatment (remaining 16; dropout in eight, additional RFA in six and ineffective treatment in two) and three lesions (3/17, 17.6%) showed local tumor progression corresponding to linear enhancement at 7, 14, 19 months after RFA. Although there was no significant difference in local recurrence rate between the lesions with (3/17) and without linear enhancement (10/35), local tumor progression inside the ablation zone occurred only in the lesions with linear enhancement. In conclusion, linear enhancement inside the RFA-treated area should be followed up within 7 months because it has a risk of local tumor progression. Histology of linear enhancement and its influence on distant recurrence remain to be solved.