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Diffuse Pattern of Transient Hepatic Attenuation Differences in Viral Hepatitis: A Sign of Acute Hepatic Injury in Patients Without Cirrhosis

Kim, Sang Won MD; Shin, Hyeong Cheol MD; Kim, Il Young MD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: September-October 2010 - Volume 34 - Issue 5 - p 699-705
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e3181dbe5b2
Abdominal Imaging

Objectives: Our objective was to describe the transient hepatic attenuation differences (THADs) on dynamic computed tomography in patients with viral hepatitis who had no evidence of cirrhosis.

Methods: After excluding patients who had known causative factors for the development of THAD, a retrospective review of dynamic CT scans in 67 patients with viral hepatitis was performed to determine whether THAD was present. The patients were assigned to 3 groups according to the magnitude of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level alteration (normal to mild, moderate, and marked) or hepatitis type (acute hepatitis, acute exacerbation of chronic hepatitis, and chronic infection), and differences in the presence of various CT features including THAD among these groups were evaluated.

Results: Five THADs observed had a focal pattern, and 18 THADs had a diffuse pattern. All of the diffuse THADs were observed in patients with marked ALT level alteration (ALT level > 400 IU/L) and in patients with a clinical diagnosis of acute hepatitis or acute exacerbation of chronic hepatitis. In addition, there were significant differences of the presence of other CT findings including hepatomegaly, periportal tracking, gallbladder wall thickening, perihepatic lymphadenopathy, and splenomegaly among these groups (each P < 0.05).

Conclusions: A diffuse THAD of the liver and other CT features indicates acute hepatic injury in patients with viral hepatitis who have no clinical evidence of cirrhosis.

From the Department of Radiology, Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University, Cheonan, South Korea.

Received for publication December 30, 2009; accepted March 2, 2010.

Reprints: Sang Won Kim, MD, Department of Radiology, Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University School of Medicine, 23-20 Bongmyeong-dong, Cheonan-si, Choongnam 330-720, South Korea (e-mail:

The authors have nothing to disclose.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.