To investigate the diagnostic efficacy of gadoxetic acid-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 3.0 T for the detection of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) and compare with that at 1.5 T.
Forty patients with 54 HCCs (size range: 0.6–2.0 cm) underwent gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRIs at both 1.5 and 3.0 T with 3 to 8 days interval. The MRIs were compared quantitatively by measuring tumor-liver contrast-to-noise ratio, and qualitatively by evaluating tumor-liver contrast using matched pairs analysis. Diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity were also evaluated by the consensus readings of 2 reviewers using the alternative-free response receiver operator characteristic (ROC) method.
Although the tumor-liver contrast-to-noise ratio for the arterial phase was significantly higher at 3.0 T than at 1.5 T (30.2 ± 21.4 vs. 35.2 ± 22.9; P = 0.04), we found similar values for the hepatocyte phase (38.2 ± 24.6 vs. 38.4 ± 25.3; P = 0.762). Matched pairs analysis indicated that the relative tumor-liver contrast was better in 7 and 9 lesions in the arterial phase and hepatocyte phase at 3.0 T, respectively, than those at 1.5 T. The diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity of 3.0-T imaging [Az, 0.988; 92.6% (n = 50)] were slightly higher than those of 1.5-T imaging [Az, 0.981; 88.9% (n = 48)], but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.487).
Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRIs at 1.5 and 3.0 T showed similar diagnostic performances for detecting small HCCs. However, there was a tendency toward increased reader confidence for the arterial phase and hepatocyte phase with 3.0 T compared with 1.5 T.