Thirty-two dogs with spontaneous hepatic nodules were given intravenous ultrasound contrast medium (Definity™ or Sonovue™) and imaged with contrast harmonic software on a conventional ultrasound machine system. Digital video images were initially reviewed to describe the perfusion pattern of malignant nodules. The images were reviewed again to test this pattern against all individual nodules. Subjectively, there was improved conspicuity of malignant nodules after contrast enhancement compared with conventional imaging and increased numbers of malignant nodules were often noted. There was decreased conspicuity of benign nodules and no additional nodules were seen after contrast enhancement. There was a highly significant (P < 0.0001) association of malignancy with a hypoechoic nodule at surrounding normal liver peak contrast enhancement. Benign nodules were isoechoic to the surrounding normal liver at peak contrast enhancement. Only one benign nodule (hepatoma) had regions of hypoechogenicity compared with the surrounding normal liver at peak liver contrast enhancement. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy were highly significant (P < 0.0001) (100%, 94.1%, 93.8%, 100%, and 96.9%, respectively). No complications or morbidity was noted throughout the course of the study. Contrast harmonic ultrasound appears to be accurate at discriminating between naturally occurring benign and malignant nodules in the liver of dogs.
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