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Magn Reson Imaging. 2011 Nov;29(9):1215-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2011.07.024. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Diffusion-weighted MRI: influence of intravoxel fat signal and breast density on breast tumor conspicuity and apparent diffusion coefficient measurements.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Promising recent investigations have shown that breast malignancies exhibit restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and may be distinguished from normal tissue and benign lesions in the breast based on differences in apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values. In this study, we assessed the influence of intravoxel fat signal on breast diffusion measures by comparing ADC values obtained using a diffusion-weighted single shot fast spin-echo sequence with and without fat suppression. The influence of breast density on ADC measures was also evaluated. ADC values were calculated for both tumor and normal fibroglandular tissue in a group of 21 women with diagnosed breast cancer. There were systematic underestimations of ADC for both tumor and normal breast tissue due to intravoxel contribution from fat signal on non-fat-suppressed DWI. This ADC underestimation was more pronounced for normal tissue values (mean difference=40%) than for tumors (mean difference=27%, P<.001) and was worse in women with low breast tissue density vs. those with extremely dense breasts (P<.05 for both tumor and normal tissue). Tumor conspicuity measured by contrast-to-noise ratio was significantly higher on ADC maps created with fat suppression and was not significantly associated with breast density. In summary, robust fat suppression is important for accurate breast ADC measures and optimal lesion conspicuity on DWI.

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