RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES - The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare contrast-enhanced subharmonic and harmonic ultrasound as tools for characterizing solid renal masses and monitoring their response to cryoablation therapy.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - Sixteen patients undergoing percutaneous ablation of a renal mass provided informed consent to undergo ultrasound examinations the morning before and approximately 4 months after cryoablation. Ultrasound contrast parameters during pretreatment imaging were compared to biopsy results obtained during ablation (n = 13). Posttreatment changes were evaluated by a radiologist and compared to contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/computed tomography (CT) follow-up.
RESULTS - All masses initially showed heterogeneous enhancement with both subharmonic and harmonic ultrasound. Early contrast washout in the mass relative to the cortex was observed in 6 of 9 malignant and 0 of 4 benign lesions in subharmonic mode and 8 of 9 malignant and 1 of 4 benign lesions in harmonic imaging. In cases where the lesion was adequately visualized at follow-up (n = 12), subharmonic and harmonic ultrasound showed accuracies of 83% and 75%, respectively, in predicting treatment outcome. Although harmonic imaging showed less overall error, no significant differences (P > .29) in ablation cavity volumes were observed between MRI/CT and either contrast-imaging mode.
CONCLUSIONS - Subharmonic and harmonic contrast-enhanced ultrasound may be a safe and accurate imaging alternative for characterizing renal masses and evaluating their response to cryoablation therapy. Although subharmonic imaging was more accurate in detecting effective cryoablation, harmonic imaging was superior in quantifying ablation cavity volumes.
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