Early Cholangiocarcinoma Detection With Magnetic Resonance Imaging Versus Ultrasound in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

John E. Eaton, Christopher L. Welle, Zeinab Bakhshi, Shannon P. Sheedy, Ilkay S. Idilman, Gregory J. Gores, Charles B. Rosen, Julie K. Heimbach, Timucin Taner, Denise M. Harnois, Keith D. Lindor, Nicholas F. LaRusso, Andrea A. Gossard, Konstantinos N. Lazaridis, Sudhakar K. Venkatesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: Early detection of perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) among patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is important to identify more people eligible for curative therapy. While many recommend CCA screening, there are divergent opinions and limited data regarding the use of ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for early CCA detection, and it is unknown whether there is benefit in testing asymptomatic individuals. Our aims were to assess the diagnostic performances and prognostic implications of ultrasound and MRI-based CCA detection. Approach and Results: This is a multicenter review of 266 adults with PSC (CCA, n = 120) who underwent both an ultrasound and MRI within 3 months. Images were re-examined by radiologists who were blinded to the clinical information. Respectively, MRI had a higher area under the curve compared with ultrasound for CCA detection: 0.87 versus 0.70 for the entire cohort; 0.81 versus 0.59 for asymptomatic individuals; and 0.88 versus 0.71 for those listed for CCA transplant protocol. The absence of symptoms at CCA diagnosis was associated with improved 5-year outcomes including overall survival (82% vs. 46%, log-rank P < 0.01) and recurrence-free survival following liver transplant (89% vs. 65%, log-rank P = 0.04). Among those with asymptomatic CCA, MRI detection (compared with ultrasound) was associated with reduction in both mortality (hazard ratio, 0.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.96) and CCA progression after transplant listing (hazard ratio, 0.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.01-0.90). These benefits continued among patients who had annual monitoring and PSC for more than 1 year before CCA was diagnosed. Conclusions: MRI is superior to ultrasound for the detection of early-stage CCA in patients with PSC. Identification of CCA before the onset of symptoms with MRI is associated with improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1868-1881
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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