Purpose: To evaluate the characteristics of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) with marginal superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) uptake on T2*-weighted MRI. Materials and methods: The study group consisted of 73 patients with 83 surgically resected HCCs. Preoperative SPIO-enhanced MRI studies were retrospectively reviewed. Marginal SPIO uptake was considered positive if a rim-like or band-like low intensity area was present on SPIO-enhanced T2*-weighted images. The prevalence of marginal SPIO uptake was evaluated. Pathological specimens with hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemical staining of CD68 were reviewed in HCCs with marginal SPIO uptake and 33 HCCs without marginal SPIO uptake (control group). Results: Ten of 83 (12%) HCCs showed marginal SPIO uptake. All HCCs were hypervascular, and only one nodule showed a nodule-in-nodule appearance on imaging findings. The pathology specimens suggested possible causes of marginal SPIO uptake, including marginal macrophage infiltration in moderately or poorly differentiated HCC (n = 4), residual normal hepatic tissue at the marginal area of confluent multinodular or single nodular with extranodular growth type HCC (n = 3), and a well-differentiated HCC component in nodule-in-nodule type HCC (n = 3). Marginal macrophage infiltration was not seen in the control group. Conclusion: SPIO-enhanced MRI may be able to demonstrate marginal macrophage infiltration in HCC.
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