Published online Dec 7, 2007. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i45.5963
Revised: September 10, 2007
Accepted: October 16, 2007
Published online: December 7, 2007
Ultrasound (US) is often the first imaging modality employed in patients with suspected focal liver lesions. The role of US in the characterisation of focal liver lesions has been transformed with the introduction of specific contrast media and the development of specialized imaging techniques. Ultrasound now can fully characterise the enhancement pattern of hepatic lesions, similar to that achieved with contrast enhanced multiphasic computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). US contrast agents are safe, well-tolerated and have very few contraindications. Furthermore, real-time evaluation of the vascularity of focal liver lesions has become possible with the use of the newer microbubble contrast agents. This article reviews the enhancement pattern of the most frequent liver lesions seen, using the second generation US contrast media. The common pitfalls for each type of lesion are discussed. The recent developments in US contrast media and specific imaging techniques have been a major advance and this technique, in view of the intrinsic advantages of US, will undoubtedly gain popularity in the years to come.