A history of hepatobiliary abnormalities identified through ultrasound is strongly associated with cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), especially in people diagnosed with dilated bile ducts or liver masses, a new study published in Scientific Reports found. 

“Therefore, these abnormalities can be indicators for suspected CCA diagnosis through [ultrasonography],” the authors of the study concluded.

Ultrasonography is often used to screen for CCA. However, the link between hepatobiliary abnormalities identified using ultrasound and CCA has not been well studied.

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Here, a team of researchers from Thailand and Australia evaluated the association between the rate of CCA and the history of ultrasonographic findings. The team used data obtained from the Cholangiocarcinoma Screening and Care Program in Northeast Thailand on about 1880 patients who underwent an ultrasound and were pathologically diagnosed with CCA between 2013 and 2020.

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The overall rate of CCA in the database was 35.74%. However, the rate of CCA was higher among patients who were diagnosed with a dilated bile duct or a liver mass, at 62.01% and 54.85% respectively. The relationships between dilated bile duct and CCA and liver mass and CCA were highly significant.

“These liver and bile ducts abnormalities can be very important indicators for CCA,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, we recommend that screening for CCA in populations living in high-risk areas, as well as the general population, should focus on finding early symptoms to detect suspected CCA that could develop into CCA such as liver and bile ducts abnormalities through [ultrasonography] diagnosis.”

CCA is a heterogeneous group of rare malignant tumors originating from the cells of the biliary tree. It is responsible for around 15% of all primary liver tumors and is the second most common primary malignancy of the liver. The rate of CCA is increasing every year. 


Thinkhamrop K, Khuntikeo N, Chamadol N, Suwannatrai AT, Phimha S, Kelly M. Associations between ultrasound screening findings and cholangiocarcinoma diagnosis in an at-risk population. Sci Rep. 2022;12(1):13513. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-17794-9