Copyright ©2007 Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Dec 7, 2007; 13(45): 5963-5970
Published online Dec 7, 2007. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i45.5963
Use of second generation contrast-enhanced ultrasound in the assessment of focal liver lesions
Stanislas HX Morin, Adrian KP Lim, Jeremy FL Cobbold, Simon D Taylor-Robinson
Stanislas HX Morin, Adrian KP Lim, Department of Imaging Sciences, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Jeremy FL Cobbold, Simon D Taylor-Robinson, Liver Unit, St Mary’s Hospital Campus, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Author contributions: All authors contributed equally to the work.
Supported by Research Grant from the British Medical Research Council, Pfizer Global Research (Sandwich, UK) and the United Kingdom Department of Health Research and Development Fund. SM is funded by a clinical and research fellowship from the Société des Radiologistes de l’Hôpital St-François d’Assise, Québec, Canada
Correspondence to: Dr. Stanislas HX Morin, Robert Steiner MRI Unit, Imaging Sciences Department, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, United Kingdom. stan.morin@imperial.ac.uk
Telephone: +44-208-3833298 Fax: +44-208-3833038
Received: April 7, 2007
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.

Keywords: Microbubble contrast agents, Ultrasound, Focal liver lesions