Journal of Ultrasound

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 251–259 | Cite as

Morphological and dynamic evaluation of complex cystic focal liver lesions by contrast-enhanced ultrasound: current state of the art

  • Antonio Corvino
  • Fabio Sandomenico
  • Sergio Venanzio Setola
  • Fabio Corvino
  • Domenico Tafuri
  • Orlando Catalano


Complex cystic and cystic-like focal liver lesions (FLLs) encompass a spectrum of disorders ranging from non-neoplastic conditions to benign and malignant tumors. In this prospective, the possibility of non-invasive differentiation of these lesions is extremely important, because the clinical implications and therapeutic strategies vary considerably. Because of its advantageous cost/benefit ratio, widespread availability and easy execution, ultrasound (US) is the first-line imaging modality in most countries for the initial liver survey and represents the imaging technique that usually detects a complex liver cyst. However, US showed poor efficacy in the differential diagnosis of complex cystic FLLs. Thus, for years, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have been used for further assessment of these lesions. Recently, the development of low mechanical index real-time contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) technique performed with the second generation of US contrast agents has led to an accurate depiction of macrovasculature and microvasculature. The technique yields information about contrast enhancement of the liver and FLLs almost as CT and MRI do, but in real time and without the use of ionizing radiation. To date, there is only a small amount of evidence about the role of CEUS in the less common setting of complex liver cysts. The aim of this review is to offer an up-to-date overview on the state of the art of CEUS in the study of the most common complex cystic focal liver lesions. To our knowledge, there are no literature comprehensive reviews on this topic.


Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) Cystic liver lesions Complex cystic liver lesions Ultrasound microbubbles Ultrasound contrast agent 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We confirm that this work is original and has not been published elsewhere nor is it currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. Publication is approved by all authors and by the responsible authorities where the work was carried out. Each author has participated sufficiently in any submission to take public responsibility for its content. The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all patients, and the study was approved by the ethics committee of the institution.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Ultrasonologia in Medicina e Biologia (SIUMB) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Corvino
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  • Fabio Sandomenico
    • 3
  • Sergio Venanzio Setola
    • 3
  • Fabio Corvino
    • 4
  • Domenico Tafuri
    • 1
  • Orlando Catalano
    • 5
  1. 1.Motor Science and Wellness DepartmentUniversity of Naples “Parthenope”NaplesItaly
  2. 2.Advanced Biomedical Sciences DepartmentUniversity Federico II of Naples (UNINA)NaplesItaly
  3. 3.Radiology DepartmentNational Cancer Institute Pascale FoundationNaplesItaly
  4. 4.Vascular and Interventional Radiology DepartmentCardarelli HospitalNaplesItaly
  5. 5.Radiology UnitIstituto Diagnostico VarelliNaplesItaly
  6. 6.Casal di PrincipeItaly

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