Flash Imaging Used in the Post-vascular Phase of Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasonography is Useful for Assessing the Progression in Patients with Hepatitis C Virus-Related Liver Disease.


Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine (Omori), School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Toho University, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


Sonazoid is a commonly used contrast agent for characterizing liver tumors in ultrasonography (US). We performed flash imaging in the post-vascular phase of contrast-enhanced US (CEUS) to investigate associations between collapse of Sonazoid microbubbles (MB) and progression of liver disease. This study enrolled 409 patients (205 men, 204 women) with hepatitis C virus-related liver disease (CLD) between 2007 and 2017 (mean age 60 ± 14 y; range 20-90 y). In the post-vascular phase, 10 min after administering Sonazoid, flash imaging was performed to burst MB in the liver parenchyma; the range of bubble destruction was measured from the surface of the liver. The range of bubble destruction, stage of fibrosis, shear wave velocity (Vs), serologic markers and fibrosis-4 (FIB4) index were analyzed in 259 patients who underwent liver biopsy. Fibrosis stage was F0-1 in 108 patients, F2 in 73, F3 in 38 and F4 in 40. In 150 patients with cirrhosis, diagnosis was made based on imaging findings. The range of bubble destruction was 42.0 ± 10.4 mm in F0-1 patients, 42.9 ± 13.2 mm in F2, 51.5 ± 15.9 mm in F3 and 55.4 ± 17.3 mm in F4 and was significantly increased according to progression of fibrosis staging. The range of bubble destruction was positively correlated with Vs (r = 0.34; p < 0.01), total bilirubin (r = 0.25; p < 0.01) and FIB4 index (r = 0.38; p < 0.01). In contrast, the range of bubble destruction was negatively correlated with serum levels of albumin (r = -0.34; p < 0.01), platelet count (r = -0.35; p < 0.01) and prothrombin time (r = -0.36; p < 0.01). The results indicated that flash imaging in the post-vascular phase of CEUS was a non-invasive assessment and could predict disease progression in patients with CLD.


Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography,Flash imaging,Hepatitis C,Liver fibrosis,Liver stiffness,