Abdominal Imaging

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 793–801 | Cite as

Small intrahepatic mass-forming cholangiocarcinoma: target sign on diffusion-weighted imaging for differentiation from hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Hyun Jeong Park
  • Young Kon Kim
  • Min Jung Park
  • Won Jae Lee



To determine the differential MRI features of small mass-forming intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


Sixty-four patients with pathologically proven small ICCs (n = 32) and HCCs (n = 32) (≤3.0 cm in diameter) who had undergone preoperative gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI and DWI were enrolled in this study. Images were analyzed for the shape of the lesions, the presence of biliary dilatation, hyperenhancement (>50 % of the tumor volume) or rim enhancement on the arterial phase, capsular enhancement, and the presence of target appearance (a central enhancement with hypointense rim) on the hepatobiliary phase and on DWI (a central hypointense area with a peripheral hyperintense rim). Statistical significance of these findings was determined by the χ2 or Fisher’s exact test. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify independent imaging findings that allow differentiation of the two diseases.


Univariate analysis revealed that the following significant parameters favor ICC over HCC: lobulating shape, rim enhancement on arterial phase, target appearance on the hepatobiliary phase, and DWI (P < 0.05). Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that only target appearance on the DWI was a significant and independent variable predictive of ICC, as 24 ICCs (75.0 %) and one HCC (3.1 %) showed this feature (P = 0.0003).


A target appearance on the DWI was the most reliable imaging feature for distinguishing small mass-forming ICC from small HCC.


Liver Diffusion-weighted imaging Gd-EOB-DTPA Cholangiocarcinoma Hepatocellular carcinoma 


Conflict of interest

I certify that all authors have had no relevant financial interests or personal affiliations in connection with the content of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyun Jeong Park
    • 1
  • Young Kon Kim
    • 1
  • Min Jung Park
    • 1
  • Won Jae Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Radiology and Center for Imaging Science, Samsung Medical CenterSungkyunkwan University School of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea

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