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Experience is Key in Reading Contrast Ultrasound Liver Images

January 20, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Nuclear Medicine
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Distinguishing between benign and malignant liver tumors using contrast-enhanced ultrasound images (CEUS) takes an experienced eye, Italian researchers say. While CEUS can be helpful in diagnosing liver tumors, interpreting such images can be a challenge, according to the researchers. 

The team’s study, which appears in the current issue of Journal of Ultrasound Medicine, used retrospective data from 286 biopsy-proven liver tumors in 235 patients who had received CEUS. The researchers asked three CEUS observers, each with two to 10 years experience, and three beginning readers to evaluate each tumor. Types of tumors included hepatocellular carcinomas, metastases, intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, liver hemangiomas, and benign lesions. The readers used a five-point scale that ranged from definitely benign (1) to indeterminate (3) to definitely malignant (5). The inexperienced readers first received training on the diagnostic and interpretive criteria.

Results showed the experienced readers scored better, with an overall accuracy of 75.9 to 93.1 percent. In contrast, the beginning readers had an accuracy of 63.3 to 72.8 percent—a signficant difference.

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