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Br J Radiol. 2016;89(1060):20150929. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20150929. Epub 2016 Feb 19.

Usefulness of diffusion-weighted MR imaging for differentiating between benign and malignant superficial soft tissue tumours and tumour-like lesions.

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Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Songpa-Gu, Seoul, South Korea.



To evaluate the usefulness of adding diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) with apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) mapping to conventional 3.0-T MRI to differentiate between benign and malignant superficial soft-tissue masses (SSTMs).


The institutional review board approved this study and informed consent was waived. The authors retrospectively analyzed conventional MR images including diffusion-weighted images (b-values: 0, 400, 800 s mm(-2)) in 60 histologically proven SSTMs (35 benign and 25 malignant) excluding lipomas. Two radiologists independently evaluated the conventional MRI alone and again with the additional DWI for the evaluation of malignant masses. The mean ADC values measured within an entire mass and the contrast-enhancing solid portion were used for quantitative analysis. Diagnostic performances were compared using receiver-operating characteristic analysis.


For an inexperienced reader, using only conventional MRI, the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy were 84%, 80% and 81.6%, respectively. When combining conventional MRI and DWI, the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy were 96%, 85.7% and 90%, respectively. Additional DWI influenced the improvement of the rate of correct diagnosis by 8.3% (5/60). For an experienced reader, additional DWI revealed the same accuracy of 86.7% without added value on the correct diagnosis. The group mean ADCs of malignant SSTMs were significantly lower than that of benign SSTMs (p < 0.001). The best diagnostic performance with respect to differentiation of SSTMs could be obtained when conventional MRI was assessed in combination with DWI.


Adding qualitative and quantitative DWI to conventional MRI can improve the diagnostic performance for the differentiation between benign and malignant SSTMs.


Because the imaging characteristics of many malignant superficial soft-tissue lesions overlap with those of benign ones, inadequate surgical resection due to misinterpretation of MRI often occurs. Adding DWI to conventional MRI yields greater diagnostic performances [area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), 0.83-0.99] than does the use of conventional MRI alone (AUC, 0.71-0.93) in the evaluation of malignant superficial masses by inexperienced readers.

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