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Radiology. 2009 Sep;252(3):721-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2523082090.

Noninvasive assessment of acute ureteral obstruction with diffusion-weighted MR imaging: a prospective study.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital of Bern, Inselspital, Freiburgstrasse 10, CH-3010 Bern, Switzerland.



To prospectively assess the potential of noninvasive diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to depict changes in microperfusion and diffusion in patients with acute unilateral ureteral obstruction.


The local ethics committee approved the study protocol. Informed consent was obtained. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging was performed in 21 patients (two women, 19 men; mean age, 43 years +/- 10 [standard deviation]) with acute unilateral ureteral obstruction due to a calculus diagnosed at unenhanced computed tomography. A control group (one woman, 15 men; mean age, 44 years +/- 12) underwent the same MR protocol. Standard processing yielded an apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) ADCT; the separation of microperfusion and diffusion contributions yielded the perfusion fraction FP and the pure diffusion coefficient ADCD. ADCT, ADCD, and FP were compared between obstructed and contralateral unobstructed kidneys and with control values. For statistical analysis, nonparametric rank tests were used. A P value of less than .05 was considered significant.


No significant differences were observed between the ADCT of the medulla or cortex of the obstructed and unobstructed kidneys. Compared with control kidneys, only medullary ADCT was slightly increased in the obstructed kidney (P < .04). However, the ADCD in the medulla of the obstructed and unobstructed kidneys was significantly higher than that in control subjects (201 x 10(-5) mm2/sec +/- 16 and 199 x 10(-5) mm2/sec +/- 20 vs 189 x 10(-5) mm2/sec +/- 12; P < .008 and P < .03, respectively). FP of the cortex of the obstructed kidney was significantly lower than that in the unobstructed kidney (20.2% +/- 4.8 vs 24.0% +/- 5.8; P < .002); FP of the medulla was slightly lower in the obstructed kidney than in the unobstructed kidney (18.3% +/- 5.9 vs 20.7% +/- 6.4; P = .05).


Diffusion-weighted MR imaging allows noninvasive detection of changes in renal perfusion and diffusion during acute unilateral ureteral obstruction, as exemplified in patients with a ureteral calculus.

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