Assessment of Vascularity in Hepatic Alveolar Echinococcosis: Comparison of Quantified Dual-Energy CT with Histopathologic Parameters

Purpose

To investigate whether dual-energy computer tomography(DECT) could determine the angiographic vascularity of alveolar echinococcosis lesions by comparing the quantitative iodine concentration (IC) with the microvascular density (MVD).

Material and Methods

Twenty-five patients (16 men, 9 women; mean age, 40.9 ± 13.8 years) with confirmed hepatic alveolar echinococcosis (HAE) underwent DECT of the abdomen, consisting of arterial phase (AP), portal venous phase (PVP), and delayed phase (DP) scanning, in dual-source mode (100 kV/140 kV). Image data were processed with a DECT software algorithm that was designed for the evaluation of iodine distribution in the different layers (marginal zone, solid and cystic) of the lesions. The CT patterns of HAE lesions were classified into three types: solid type, pseudocystic type and ‘geographic map’ (mixed) type. The IC measurements in different layers and different types of lesions were statistically compared. MVD was examined using CD34 immunohistochemical staining of the resected HAE tissue and scored based on the percentage of positively stained cells and their intensity. Pearson’s correlation analysis was used to evaluate the potential correlation between DECT parameters and MVD.

Results

A total of 27 HAE lesions were evaluated, of which 9 were solid type, 3 were pseudocystic type and 15 were mixed type. The mean lesion size was 100.7 ± 47.3 mm. There was a significant difference in the IC measurements between different layers of HAE lesions during each scan phase (p < 0.001). The IC in the marginal zone was significantly higher than in the solid and cystic components in AP (2.15 mg/mL vs. 0.17 or 0.01 mg/mL), PVP (3.08 mg/mL vs. 0.1 or 0.02 mg/mL), and DP (2.93 mg/mL vs. 0.04 or 0.02 mg/mL). No significant difference was found among the different CT patterns of HAE lesions. Positive expression of CD34 in the marginal zones surrounding HAE lesions was found in 92.5% (25/27) of lesions, of which 18.5% (5/27) were strongly positive, 62.7% (17/27) were moderately positive, and 11.1% (3/27) were weakly positive. In contrast, 7.4% (2/27) of the lesions were negative for CD34. There was a positive correlation between IC measurements and MVD in the marginal zone of HAE lesions (r = 0.73, p < 0.05).

Conclusions

The DECT quantitative iodine concentration was significantly correlated with MVD in the marginal zones surrounding HAE lesions. Dual-energy CT using a quantitative analytic methodology can be used to evaluate the vascularity of AE.