New method for investigating and classifying liver tumours

Adenomas are rare liver tumours, a certain percentage of which can become malignant. Using a new MR (magnetic resonance) technique at MedUni Vienna, it is now possible to classify adenomas without subjecting patients to invasive tissue sampling procedures.
Hitherto patients have had to undergo biopsy to take tissue samples for histological examination in order to determine whether a hepatocellular adenoma is benign or potentially malignant. Using a new imaging technique at the University Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at MedUni Vienna (Christian Herold), this type of tumour can now be clearly classified by means of a liver-specific MR contrast agent.
Adenomas of the liver are relatively rare. They can develop in different ways. Hence there are three subtypes (benign, inflammatory, pre-malignant) and a fourth unclassifiable subgroup with different clinical courses and potential progression. It is now possible to determine which group a particular adenoma belongs to using a new MR imaging technique.
The liver-specific contrast agent, gadoxetic acid, targets the bile transporters OATP (organic anion-transporting polypeptide) and MRP (Multidrug Resistance-Related Protein) in adenoma cells and normal liver cells. These will either absorb the agent or re-excrete it. The tumours can then be classified on the basis of the relative proportion of these surface transporters as compared to normal liver cells, as shown in the MR image.