Published online Dec 28, 2010. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v2.i12.455
Revised: December 20, 2010
Accepted: December 26, 2010
Published online: December 28, 2010
The extensive use of imaging techniques in differential diagnosis of abdominal conditions and screening of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatic diseases, has led to an important increase in identification of focal liver lesions. The development of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) opens a new window in the diagnosis and follow-up of these lesions. This technique offers obvious advantages over the computed tomography and magnetic resonance, without a decrease in its sensitivity and specificity. The new second generation contrast agents, due to their intravascular distribution, allow a continuous evaluation of the enhancement pattern, which is crucial in characterization of liver lesions. The dual blood supply in the liver shows three different phases, namely arterial, portal and late phases. The enhancement during portal and late phases can give important information about the lesion’s behavior. Each liver lesion has a different enhancement pattern that makes possible an accurate approach to their diagnosis. The role of emerging techniques as a contrast-enhanced three-dimensional US is also discussed. In this article, the advantages, indications and technique employed during CEUS and the different enhancement patterns of most benign and malignant focal liver lesions are discussed.