Ultrasound examination is the first imaging modality for hepatic study in neoplastic and chronic liver diseases. Focal liver lesions frequently cause diagnostic problems in terms of characterization, especially when small and hypoechoic to the rest of the parenchyma. Contrast--enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) has shown its value in the characterization of focal liver lesions. This study assessed the value of the sinusoidal phase of CEUS with a second-generation contrast agent in the characterization of focal liver lesions to distinguish benign from malignant. Two hundred hepatic lesions with suspicious features at baseline ultrasound were prospectively studied with CEUS. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and diagnostic accuracy of the sinusoidal phase in the characterization of benign versus malignant liver lesions were evaluated. Hypoechogenicity of the focal liver lesion, during the sinusoidal phase of CEUS, allowed the diagnosis of malignancy with a sensitivity of 85%, specificity of 88%, positive predictive value of 92%, negative predictive value of 77%, and diagnostic accuracy of 86%. The diagnostic confidence in the diagnosis of malignancy significantly increased, with receiver operating characteristic curve areas from 0.536 for baseline ultrasound to 0.902 for the sinusoidal phase of CEUS.
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