PURPOSE: To compare single-shot echo-planar MR imaging(EPI) with breath-hold fast T2-weighted imaging(HASTEor Turbo spin-echo T2WI) for evaluation of the role of EPI in distinguishing small hepatocellular carcinoma fromcavernous hemangioma. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated MR images of 35 patients (21 cases ofsmall HCC and 14 cases of cavernous hemangioma). EPI and breath-hold fast T2WI images were obtained and comparedon the basis of lesion detection sensitivity, lesion-to-liver signal intensity ratio(SIR), contrast ratio(CT), andlesion-to-liver contrast to noise ratio(CNR). RESULTS: For the detection of small HCC, the sensitivity of EPI andbreath-hold fast T2WI were equal in 14 of 21 cases(71.4%). The detection sensitivity of cavernous hemangioma withEPI and breath-hold fast T2WI was 100%(14/14). Mean SIR on breath-hold fast T2WI was 2.02+/-0.45 for small HCC and3.65+/-0.97 for cavernous hemangioma; on EPI, the corresponding figures wer 2.91+/-0.57 and 6.98+/-1.37. Mean CR onbreath-hold fast T2WI was 1.16+/-0.58 for small HCC and 2.65+/-0.57 for cavernous hemangioma; On EPI, the figuresobtained were 2.27+/-0.52 and 6.26+/-2.19, respectively. Mean CNR on breath-hold fast T2WI was 14.24+/- 4.098 forsmall HCC and 50.28+/-10.96 for cavernous hemangioma, while on EPI, the corresponding figures were 13.84+/-3.02 and45.44+/-11.21. CONCLUSION: In detecting focal hepatic mass, the sensitivity of EPI and breath-hold fast T2WI arecomparable; for the diagnosis of small HCC and cavernous hemangioma, EPI can provide additional information.