Liver Angioscintigraphy: Clinical Applications

Mircea Dragoteanu, Sabin O. Cotul, Cecilia Pîglesan, Stefan Tamas

Department of Nuclear Medicine, 3rd Medical Clinic, Cluj-Napoca

Abstract

Liver angioscintigraphy (LAS) is a radio-isotope method for the investigation of liver perfusion and its alteration in various hepatic diseases. It measures the arterial and portal venous fractions of total liver blood flow. The percentage of liver blood flow supplied by hepatic artery is estimated mathematically by the hepatic perfusion index (HPI), normally between 25% and 40%.

The decrease of portal blood flow in liver cirrhosis is compensated („buffer” mechanisms) by increased arterial supply, with higher HPI value. For a patient with chronic liver disease, HPI over 50% suggests arterialization of hepatic perfusion, guiding the diagnose to liver cirrhosis. Splenic curve is completing the diagnostic informations of the hepatic curve. Corroborated with per rectal scintigraphy and liver SPECT, LAS offers a good hemodynamic staging of chronic inflammatory liver diseases.

Malignant tumors (primitive or metastases) increase the arterial supply of the liver and decrease the portal flow, HPI being over 50% (currently 65%-90%). Benign tumors do not change portal/arterial liver blood flow ratio. SPECT or non-scintigraphic morphological investigations increase the diagnostic value of LAS for primitive liver tumors. Liver cancer occurring on cirrhosis is a limitative factor for LAS.

Hepatic metastases increase the arterial perfusion (and HPI value) very quickly, before their size allows morphologic imaging diagnosis. LAS is therefore an early method to diagnose liver metastases being especially used in colorectal cancer.

Other clinical applications of LAS are: follow up of liver toxicity of drugs, evaluation of portal vein permeability, post surgery follow up of the liver tumor patients.

Key words

Liver angioscintigraphy - hepatic blood flow - hepatocellular carcinoma - cirrhosis