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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Nov;199(5):1083-92. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.8010.

Comparison of qualitative and quantitative evaluation of diffusion-weighted MRI and chemical-shift imaging in the differentiation of benign and malignant vertebral body fractures.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Radiology, LMU University of Munich, Campus Grosshadern, Marchioninistrasse 15, Munich, Bavaria 81377, Germany. tobias.geith@med.uni-muenchen.de



The objective of our study was to compare the diagnostic value of qualitative diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), quantitative DWI, and chemical-shift imaging in a single prospective cohort of patients with acute osteoporotic and malignant vertebral fractures.


The study group was composed of patients with 26 osteoporotic vertebral fractures (18 women, eight men; mean age, 69 years; age range, 31 years 6 months to 86 years 2 months) and 20 malignant vertebral fractures (nine women, 11 men; mean age, 63.4 years; age range, 24 years 8 months to 86 years 4 months). T1-weighted, STIR, and T2-weighted sequences were acquired at 1.5 T. A DW reverse fast imaging with steady-state free precession (PSIF) sequence at different delta values was evaluated qualitatively. A DW echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequence and a DW single-shot turbo spin-echo (TSE) sequence at different b values were evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively using the apparent diffusion coefficient. Opposed-phase sequences were used to assess signal intensity qualitatively. The signal loss between in- and opposed-phase images was determined quantitatively. Two-tailed Fisher exact test, Mann-Whitney test, and receiver operating characteristic analysis were performed. Sensitivities, specificities, and accuracies were determined.


Qualitative DW-PSIF imaging (delta = 3 ms) showed the best performance for distinguishing between benign and malignant fractures (sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 88.5%; accuracy, 93.5%). Qualitative DW-EPI (b = 50 s/mm(2) [p = 1.00]; b = 250 s/mm(2) [p = 0.50]) and DW single-shot TSE imaging (b = 100 s/mm(2) [p = 1.00]; b = 250 s/mm(2) [p = 0.18]; b = 400 s/mm(2) [p = 0.18]; b = 600 s/mm(2) [p = 0.39]) did not indicate significant differences between benign and malignant fractures. DW-EPI using a b value of 500 s/mm(2) (p = 0.01) indicated significant differences between benign and malignant vertebral fractures. Quantitative DW-EPI (p = 0.09) and qualitative opposed-phase imaging (p = 0.06) did not exhibit significant differences, quantitative DW single-shot TSE imaging (p = 0.002) and quantitative chemical-shift imaging (p = 0.01) showed significant differences between benign and malignant fractures.


The DW-PSIF sequence (delta = 3 ms) had the highest accuracy in differentiating benign from malignant vertebral fractures. Quantitative chemical-shift imaging and quantitative DW single-shot TSE imaging had a lower accuracy than DW-PSIF imaging because of a large overlap. Qualitative assessment of opposed-phase, DW-EPI, and DW single-shot TSE sequences and quantitative assessment of the DW-EPI sequence were not suitable for distinguishing between benign and malignant vertebral fractures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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