Non-contrast short MRI surveillance for HCC screening: the study protocol of the SMS-HCC prospective multicenter study

Céline van de Braak*, François E.J.A. Willemssen, Rob A. de Man, Aad van der Lugt, Carin A. Uyl-de Groot, Daniel Bos, Roy S. Dwarkasing*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) comprises 75 to 85% of all primary liver cancers. Current guidelines recommend a biannual HCC surveillance using ultrasound (US) for high-risk patients. However, due to its low sensitivity for detection of early-stage HCC lesions, there is an urgency for more sensitive surveillance tools. Here, we describe the potential of a short MRI surveillance (SMS) protocol for HCC, including axial T1-weighted in-out phase, fat-saturated T2-weighted, and diffusion-weighted sequences. In this prospective, multicenter, patient cohort study, patients will be recruited from existing HCC surveillance cohorts of six medical centers in The Netherlands. Surveillance patients who undergo biannual US, will be invited for SMS on the same day for 3 years. In case of a suspicious finding on either US or SMS, patients will be invited for a full MRI liver protocol including gadolinium-based contrast agent intravenous injection within 2 weeks. To our knowledge, this will be the first study to perform a head-to-head comparison with a paired US-MRI design. We hypothesize that the sensitivity of SMS for detection of early-stage HCC will be higher than that of US leading to improved survival of surveillance patients through timely HCC diagnosis. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the SMS-HCC protocol will prove cost-effective. Relevance statement The US sensitivity for detecting early-stage HCC has been reported to be less than 50%. We expect that the proposed SMS will detect at least twice as many early-stage HCC lesions and therefore prove to be cost-effective. Key points • The low sensitivity of US necessitates better imaging tools for HCC screening. • This is the first study with a paired US-MRI design. • This design will allow a head-to-head comparison in both diagnostics and patient-acceptance. • We expect that SMS can contribute to a higher survival rate. Graphical Abstract: (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalEuropean radiology experimental
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024

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