Study: Contrast enhanced ultrasound more effective than conventional ultrasound at liver metastases

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Contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) is more sensitive than conventional ultrasound (US) in the detection of liver metastases and could be usefully employed in the staging of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, according to study results published in the September issue of BMC Cancer.

The researchers examined 109 patients with colorectal or gastric cancer, who underwent conventional US evaluation followed by real-time CEUS and CT scan. CT allowed for a diagnosis of metastases. For lesions not visible in CT scan, the researchers achieved the diagnosis by histopathology or by malignant behavior during follow-up. 

Out of the 109 subjects, 65 were found to have metastases. CEUS improved sensitivity in metastatic livers from 76.9 percent of patients with US to 95.4 percent, while CT scan reached 90.8 percent. CEUS and CT were more sensitive than US also for detection of single lesions (87 with US, 122 with CEUS, 113 with CT).

In 15 patients or 13.8 percent, CEUS revealed more metastases than CT, while CT revealed more metastases than CEUS in 9 patients or 8.2 percent.

The researchers performed the study at the University of Bologna, Italy.