Background & Aims: Criteria defined by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) and Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) enable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) diagnosis based on imaging in cirrhosis. Non-cirrhotic patients require biopsy given the lower pre-test probability of HCC. The objective of our study was to assess the performance of EASL and LI-RADS criteria for the diagnosis of HCC in non-cirrhotic patients with chronic HBV infection. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study performed at a referral center. We included all patients with HBV without cirrhosis with focal liver lesions who underwent contrast-enhanced CT or MRI at our clinic between 2005-2018. Studies were reviewed by 2 radiologists blinded to the diagnosis. Results: We included 280 patients, median age was 56.8 (IQR 48.2-65.45) years and 223 (80%) were male. In 191 (79%) cases the lesion was found as a result of screening. Cirrhosis was excluded based on pathology in 252 (90%) cases. We assessed 338 nodules: 257 (76%) HCC, 40 (12%) non-HCC malignant lesions, and 41 (12%) benign lesions. EASL criteria and LR-5/LR-tumor-in-vein (TIV) categories had a 100% agreement in categorizing lesions as HCC, and 226 nodules (67%) were classified as HCCs. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were 82.1 (76.9-86.6), 81.5 (71.3-89.2), 93.4 (89.3-96.2), and 58.9 (49.2-68.1), respectively. When the pre-test probability of HCC is >70%, estimated as a PAGE-B score above 9, and EASL or LR-5/LR-TIV criteria are met, post-test probability would be >90%. Conclusions: EASL criteria and LR-5/LR-TIV categories show a positive predictive value in patients with HBV without cirrhosis that is comparable to that seen in patients with cirrhosis. These criteria can be used when the pre-test probability of HCC is >70%. Lay summary: Current guidelines recommend performing a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of presumed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients without cirrhosis. We showed that specific imaging criteria had a 100% agreement for categorizing lesions as HCC, with a positive predictive value of 93.4%. These imaging criteria could be used to diagnose HCC in HBV patients without cirrhosis with a pre-test probability of HCC of ≥70%, avoiding the need for a liver biopsy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100364
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • computed tomography
  • liver neoplasms
  • magnetic resonance imaging


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