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Eur Radiol. 2012 Apr;22(4):891-9. doi: 10.1007/s00330-011-2313-1. Epub 2011 Nov 12.

Effects of microperfusion in hepatic diffusion weighted imaging.

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Center for Medical Imaging - North East Netherlands, Department of Radiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, EB44, PO Box 30001, 9700 RB, Groningen, The Netherlands.



Clinical hepatic diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) generally relies on mono-exponential diffusion. The aim was to demonstrate that mono-exponential diffusion in the liver is contaminated by microperfusion and that the bi-exponential model is required.


Nineteen fasting healthy volunteers were examined with DWI (seven b-values) using fat suppression and respiratory triggering (1.5 T). Five different regions in the liver were analysed regarding the mono-exponentially fitted apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and the bi-exponential model: molecular diffusion (D (slow)), microperfusion (D (fast)) and the respective fractions (f (slow/fast)). Data were compared using ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Simulations were performed by repeating our data analyses, using just the DWI series acquired with b-values approximating those of previous studies.


Median mono-exponentially fitted ADCs varied significantly (P < 0.001) between 1.107 and 1.423 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s for the five regions. Bi-exponential fitted D(slow) varied between 0.923 and 1.062 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s without significant differences (P = 0.140). D (fast) varied significantly, between 17.8 and 46.8 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s (P < 0.001). F-tests showed that the diffusion data fitted the bi-exponential model significantly better than the mono-exponential model (F > 21.4, P < 0.010). These results were confirmed by the simulations.


ADCs of normal liver tissue are significantly dependent on the measurement location because of substantial microperfusion contamination; therefore the bi-exponential model should be used.


Diffusion weighted MR imaging helps clinicians to differentiate tumours by diffusion properties. Fast moving water molecules experience microperfusion, slow molecules diffusion. Hepatic diffusion should be measured by bi-exponential models to avoid microperfusion contamination. Mono-exponential models are contaminated with microperfusion, resulting in apparent regional diffusion differences. Bi-exponential models are necessary to measure diffusion and microperfusion in the liver.

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