Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DWI): Clinical Potential and Applications

A special issue of Journal of Clinical Medicine (ISSN 2077-0383). This special issue belongs to the section "Nuclear Medicine & Radiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 28727

Special Issue Editor

Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Bergamo, Italy
Interests: medical imaging; image processing; DWI; renal MRI; ADPKD
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) is a non-invasive method sensitive to local water motion in the tissue. DWI signal can be interpreted using a variety of models, which attempt to capture not only simple diffusion effects, but also perfusion and anisotropy. As a tool to probe the microstructure, including the presence and potentially the degree of fibrosis, DWI has the potential to become an effective imaging biomarker.

Since its introduction in the 1980s, DWI has been increasingly used, first in the brain, then in oncology and, in the recent years, also to investigate whole-body pathophysiology, including but not limited to the kidney, liver, pancreas, and prostate. Moreover, thanks to its non-invasiveness, DWI has been widely adopted in the pediatric population.

The present Special Issue aims to highlight DWI’s clinical potential and provide an overview of possible applications in different clinical contexts, raising awareness among clinicians of a promising non-invasive functional MRI tool that, after long being used for research, is now ready to enter the clinics.

Dr. Anna Caroli
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • MRI
  • DWI
  • diffusion
  • microstructure
  • apparent diffusion coefficient
  • intravoxel incoherent motion

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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6 pages, 230 KiB  
Editorial
Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Clinical Potential and Applications
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(12), 3339; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11123339 - 10 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1255
Abstract
Since its discovery in the 1980s [...] Full article

Research

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15 pages, 1657 KiB  
Article
Influence of Immunosuppressive Regimen on Diffusivity and Oxygenation of Kidney Transplants—Analysis of Functional MRI Data from the Randomized ZEUS Trial
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(12), 3284; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11123284 - 08 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1198
Abstract
The ZEUS study was a multi-center randomized controlled trial investigating the effect of early conversion from a ciclosporin-based to an everolimus-based regimen on graft function twelve months post-transplantation. In this investigator-initiated sub-study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of kidney grafts was prospectively performed [...] Read more.
The ZEUS study was a multi-center randomized controlled trial investigating the effect of early conversion from a ciclosporin-based to an everolimus-based regimen on graft function twelve months post-transplantation. In this investigator-initiated sub-study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of kidney grafts was prospectively performed to non-invasively assess differences in graft oxygenation, diffusion and perfusion between groups and time-points using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD)-MRI. Sixteen patients underwent DWI and BOLD-MRI at months 4.5 and 12 post-transplantation on a 3 Tesla and 1.5 Tesla (n = 3) MR scanner. After exclusion due to image quality, outlier values or missing data, DWI was analyzed for ten subjects; BOLD for eight subjects. The diffusion coefficient ADCD decreased in the CsA-treated group over time, whereas it increased in the EVE group (p = 0.046, medulla). The change in ADCD from months 4.5 to 12 significantly differed between groups in the cortex (p = 0.033) and medulla (p = 0.019). In BOLD, cortico-medullary transverse relaxation rate R2* increased (decreased tissue oxygen) in the CsA-treated and decreased in EVE-treated groups over time. Similarly, R2* values at month 12 were higher in the CsA-treated group compared to the EVE-treated group. There was no significant difference for the perfusion fraction FP. In conclusion, this prospective sub-study of the ZEUS trial suggests an impact of immunosuppressive regimen on fMRI parameters of the kidney graft. Full article
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10 pages, 1241 KiB  
Communication
Simultaneous Quantification of Anisotropic Microcirculation and Microstructure in Peripheral Nerve
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(11), 3036; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11113036 - 27 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1128
Abstract
Peripheral nerve injury is a significant public health challenge, and perfusion in the nerve is a potential biomarker for assessing the injury severity and prognostic outlook. Here, we applied a novel formalism that combined intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) [...] Read more.
Peripheral nerve injury is a significant public health challenge, and perfusion in the nerve is a potential biomarker for assessing the injury severity and prognostic outlook. Here, we applied a novel formalism that combined intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to simultaneously characterize anisotropic microcirculation and microstructure in the rat sciatic nerve. Comparison to postmortem measurements revealed that the in vivo IVIM-DTI signal contained a fast compartment (2.32 ± 0.04 × 10−3 mm2/s mean diffusivity, mean ± sem, n = 6, paired t test p < 0.01) that could be attributed to microcirculation in addition to a slower compartment that had similar mean diffusivity as the postmortem nerve (1.04 ± 0.01 vs. 0.96 ± 0.05 × 10−3 mm2/s, p > 0.05). Although further investigation and technical improvement are warranted, this preliminary study demonstrates both the feasibility and potential for applying the IVIM-DTI methodology to peripheral nerves for quantifying perfusion in the presence of anisotropic tissue microstructure. Full article
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16 pages, 2893 KiB  
Article
Radiomics-Based Image Phenotyping of Kidney Apparent Diffusion Coefficient Maps: Preliminary Feasibility & Efficacy
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(7), 1972; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11071972 - 01 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1740
Abstract
Given the central role of interstitial fibrosis in disease progression in chronic kidney disease (CKD), a role for diffusion-weighted MRI has been pursued. We evaluated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of using radiomic features to phenotype apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps and hence [...] Read more.
Given the central role of interstitial fibrosis in disease progression in chronic kidney disease (CKD), a role for diffusion-weighted MRI has been pursued. We evaluated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of using radiomic features to phenotype apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps and hence to the clinical classification(s) of the participants. The study involved 40 individuals (10 healthy and 30 with CKD (eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73 m2)). Machine learning methods, such as hierarchical clustering and logistic regression, were used. Clustering resulted in the identification of two clusters, one including all individuals with CKD (n = 17), while the second one included all the healthy volunteers (n = 10) and the remaining individuals with CKD (n = 13), resulting in 100% specificity. Logistic regression identified five radiomic features to classify participants as with CKD vs. healthy volunteers, with a sensitivity and specificity of 93% and 70%, respectively, and an AUC of 0.95. Similarly, four radiomic features were able to classify participants as rapid vs. non-rapid CKD progressors among the 30 individuals with CKD, with a sensitivity and specificity of 71% and 43%, respectively, and an AUC of 0.75. These promising preliminary data should support future studies with larger numbers of participants with varied disease severity and etiologies to improve performance. Full article
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13 pages, 1252 KiB  
Article
Aberrant Structural Connectivity of the Triple Network System in Borderline Personality Disorder Is Associated with Behavioral Dysregulation
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(7), 1757; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11071757 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1944
Abstract
Background: Core symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are associated to aberrant connectivity of the triple network system (salience network [SN], default mode network [DMN], executive control network [ECN]). While functional abnormalities are widely reported, structural connectivity (SC) and anatomical changes have not [...] Read more.
Background: Core symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are associated to aberrant connectivity of the triple network system (salience network [SN], default mode network [DMN], executive control network [ECN]). While functional abnormalities are widely reported, structural connectivity (SC) and anatomical changes have not yet been investigated. Here, we explored the triple network’s SC, structure, and its association with BPD clinical features. Methods: A total of 60 BPD and 26 healthy controls (HC) underwent a multidomain neuropsychological and multimodal MRI (diffusion- and T1-weighted imaging) assessment. Metrics (fractional anisotropy [FA], mean diffusivity [MD], cortical thickness) were extracted from SN, DMN, ECN (triple network), and visual network (control network) using established atlases. Multivariate general linear models were conducted to assess group differences in metrics and associations with clinical features. Results: Patients showed increased MD in the anterior SN, dorsal DMN, and right ECN compared to HC. Diffusivity increases were more pronounced in patients with higher behavioral dysregulation, i.e., suicidal attempting, self-harm, and aggressiveness. No differences were detected in network structure. Conclusions: These results indicate that the triple network system is impaired in BPD at the microstructural level. The preferential involvement of anterior and right-lateralized subsystems and their clinical association suggests that these abnormalities could contribute to behavioral dysregulation. Full article
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23 pages, 6010 KiB  
Article
Same Brain, Different Look?—The Impact of Scanner, Sequence and Preprocessing on Diffusion Imaging Outcome Parameters
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(21), 4987; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10214987 - 27 Oct 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2583
Abstract
In clinical diagnostics and longitudinal studies, the reproducibility of MRI assessments is of high importance in order to detect pathological changes, but developments in MRI hard- and software often outrun extended periods of data acquisition and analysis. This could potentially introduce artefactual changes [...] Read more.
In clinical diagnostics and longitudinal studies, the reproducibility of MRI assessments is of high importance in order to detect pathological changes, but developments in MRI hard- and software often outrun extended periods of data acquisition and analysis. This could potentially introduce artefactual changes or mask pathological alterations. However, if and how changes of MRI hardware, scanning protocols or preprocessing software affect complex neuroimaging outcomes from, e.g., diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) remains largely understudied. We therefore compared DWI outcomes and artefact severity of 121 healthy participants (age range 19–54 years) who underwent two matched DWI protocols (Siemens product and Center for Magnetic Resonance Research sequence) at two sites (Siemens 3T Magnetom Verio and Skyrafit). After different preprocessing steps, fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) maps, obtained by tensor fitting, were processed with tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS). Inter-scanner and inter-sequence variability of skeletonised FA values reached up to 5% and differed largely in magnitude and direction across the brain. Skeletonised MD values differed up to 14% between scanners. We here demonstrate that DTI outcome measures strongly depend on imaging site and software, and that these biases vary between brain regions. These regionally inhomogeneous biases may exceed and considerably confound physiological effects such as ageing, highlighting the need to harmonise data acquisition and analysis. Future studies thus need to implement novel strategies to augment neuroimaging data reliability and replicability. Full article
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11 pages, 1562 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Radiographic Contrast-Induced Nephropathy by Functional Diffusion Weighted Imaging
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(19), 4573; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10194573 - 01 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1599
Abstract
Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) resembles an important complication of radiographic contrast medium (XCM) displayed by a rise in creatinine levels 48–72 h after XCM administration. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate microstructural renal changes due to CIN in high-risk patients by [...] Read more.
Contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN) resembles an important complication of radiographic contrast medium (XCM) displayed by a rise in creatinine levels 48–72 h after XCM administration. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate microstructural renal changes due to CIN in high-risk patients by diffusion weighted (DWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Fifteen patients (five CIN and ten non-CIN) scheduled for cardiological intervention were included in the study. All patients were investigated pre- and post-intervention on a clinical 3T scanner. After anatomical imaging, renal DWI was performed by a paracoronal echo-planar-imaging sequence. Renal clinical routine serum parameters and advanced urinary injury markers were determined to monitor renal function. We observed a drop in cortical and medullar apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) before and after XCM administration in the CIN group. In contrast, the non-CIN group differed only in medullary ADC. The decrease of ADC and FA was apparent even before serum parameters of the kidney changed. In conclusion, DWI/DTI may be a useful tool for monitoring high-risk CIN patients as part of multi-modality based clinical protocol. Further studies, including advanced analysis of the diffusion signal, may improve the identification of patients at risk for CIN. Full article
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14 pages, 22659 KiB  
Article
Diffusion–Based Virtual MR Elastography of the Liver: Can It Be Extended beyond Liver Fibrosis?
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(19), 4553; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10194553 - 30 Sep 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1975
Abstract
Background: Strong correlation has been reported between tissue water diffusivity and tissue elasticity in the liver. The purpose of this study is to explore the capability of diffusion–based virtual MR elastography (VMRE) in the characterization of liver tumors by extending beyond liver [...] Read more.
Background: Strong correlation has been reported between tissue water diffusivity and tissue elasticity in the liver. The purpose of this study is to explore the capability of diffusion–based virtual MR elastography (VMRE) in the characterization of liver tumors by extending beyond liver fibrosis assessments. Methods: Fifty-four patients (56 liver tumors: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), 31; metastases, 25) who underwent MRE, diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) (b: 0, 800 s/mm2), and VMRE (b: 200, 1500 s/mm2) were enrolled. The MRE shear modulus (µMRE), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and shifted ADC (sADC) were obtained. Virtual stiffness (µdiff) was estimated from the relationship between µMRE and sADC. A linear discriminant analysis combining VMRE and MRE to classify HCC and metastases was performed in a training cohort (thirty-two patients) to estimate a classifier (C), and evaluate its accuracy in a testing cohort (twenty-two patients). Pearson’s correlations between µMRE, sADC, and ADC were evaluated. In addition to the discriminant analysis, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to assess the discrimination capability between HCC and metastases. Results: The correlations between µMRE and sADC were significant for liver, HCC, and metastases (r = 0.91, 0.68, 0.71; all p < 0.05). Those between µMRE and ADC were weaker and significant only for metastases (r = 0.17, 0.20, 0.55). µdiff values were not significantly different between HCC and metastases (p = 0.56). Areas under the curves (AUC) to differentiate HCC from metastases were as follows: VMRE, 0.46; MRE alone, 0.89; MRE + VMRE, 0.96. The classifier C also provided better performance than MRE alone, in terms of sensitivity (100 vs. 93.5%, respectively) and specificity (92 vs. 76%, respectively, p = 0.046). Conclusions: The correlation between sADC and µMRE was strong both in the liver and in tumors. However, VMRE alone could not classify HCC and metastases. The combination of MRE and VMRE, however, allowed discriminant performance between HCC and metastases. Full article
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13 pages, 2430 KiB  
Article
Diffusion-Weighted Imaging and Mapping of T1 and T2 Relaxation Time for Evaluation of Chronic Renal Allograft Rejection in a Translational Mouse Model
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(19), 4318; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10194318 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1561
Abstract
We hypothesized that multiparametric MRI is able to non-invasively assess, characterize and monitor renal allograft pathology in a translational mouse model of chronic allograft rejection. Chronic rejection was induced by allogenic kidney transplantation (ktx) of BALB/c-kidneys into C57BL/6-mice (n = 23). Animals [...] Read more.
We hypothesized that multiparametric MRI is able to non-invasively assess, characterize and monitor renal allograft pathology in a translational mouse model of chronic allograft rejection. Chronic rejection was induced by allogenic kidney transplantation (ktx) of BALB/c-kidneys into C57BL/6-mice (n = 23). Animals after isogenic ktx (n = 18) and non-transplanted healthy animals (n = 22) served as controls. MRI sequences (7T) were acquired 3 and 6 weeks after ktx and quantitative T1, T2 and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps were calculated. In addition, in a subset of animals, histological changes after ktx were evaluated. Chronic rejection was associated with a significant prolongation of T1 time compared to isogenic ktx 3 (1965 ± 53 vs. 1457 ± 52 ms, p < 0.001) and 6 weeks after surgery (1899 ± 79 vs. 1393 ± 51 ms, p < 0.001). While mean T2 times and ADC were not significantly different between allogenic and isogenic kidney grafts, histogram-based analysis of ADC revealed significantly increased tissue heterogeneity in allografts at both time points (standard derivation/entropy/interquartile range, p < 0.05). Correspondingly, histological analysis showed severe inflammation, graft fibrosis and tissue heterogeneity in allogenic but not in isogenic kidney grafts. In conclusion, renal diffusion weighted imaging and mapping of T2 and T1 relaxation times enable detection of chronic renal allograft rejection in mice. The combined quantitative assessment of mean values and histograms provides non-invasive information of chronic changes in renal grafts and allows longitudinal monitoring. Full article
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10 pages, 2187 KiB  
Article
Diffusion-Weighted MRI in the Evaluation of Renal Parenchymal Involvement during Febrile Urinary Tract Infections in Children: Preliminary Data
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(11), 2239; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10112239 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1529
Abstract
Background: Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common infection in pediatric-age patients. Acute pyelonephritis (PNA) represents a worrying situation in pediatric patients due to the risk of sepsis and long-term cicatricial consequences. The purpose of this retrospective study is to evaluate [...] Read more.
Background: Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common infection in pediatric-age patients. Acute pyelonephritis (PNA) represents a worrying situation in pediatric patients due to the risk of sepsis and long-term cicatricial consequences. The purpose of this retrospective study is to evaluate the diagnostic role of DW-MRI in relation to clinical data, to understand if there are any clinical parameters useful in identifying which patients should undergo it. Methods: According to inclusion and exclusion criteria, we enrolled 51 patients ≤15 years old admitted to our Institute between September 2012 and April 2020 with a febrile UTI who underwent DW-MRI evaluation. Clinical, laboratory and imaging data were collected. Statistical analysis was performed. Results: 34 of 51 patients with an fUTI (66.7%) showed signs of acute parenchymal involvement at DW-MRI evaluation. In 27 of these 34 (79.4%), DW-MRI showed multiple areas of pyelonephritis. A statistically significant relationship (p = 0.0004) between older age at admission and pyelonephritis was demonstrated. No statistically significant relationship was found between the other clinical, anamnestic and laboratory parameters and the outcome of DWI. Only two ultrasound examinations allowed the identification of pathological areas on the renal parenchyma. Conclusions: From these preliminary investigations, we can say that selecting the patients with fUTI on whom to perform a DW-MRI is difficult. Nevertheless, thanks to the low cost, the very rare need for sedation and the accuracy in identifying pyelonephritic areas, the use of DW-MRI in patients with febrile UTI seems recommendable. Full article
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Review

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21 pages, 3278 KiB  
Review
Quantitative MR Markers in Non-Myelopathic Spinal Cord Compression: A Narrative Review
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(9), 2301; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11092301 - 20 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2166
Abstract
Degenerative spinal cord compression is a frequent pathological condition with increasing prevalence throughout aging. Initial non-myelopathic cervical spinal cord compression (NMDC) might progress over time into potentially irreversible degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). While quantitative MRI (qMRI) techniques demonstrated the ability to depict intrinsic [...] Read more.
Degenerative spinal cord compression is a frequent pathological condition with increasing prevalence throughout aging. Initial non-myelopathic cervical spinal cord compression (NMDC) might progress over time into potentially irreversible degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM). While quantitative MRI (qMRI) techniques demonstrated the ability to depict intrinsic tissue properties, longitudinal in-vivo biomarkers to identify NMDC patients who will eventually develop DCM are still missing. Thus, we aim to review the ability of qMRI techniques (such as diffusion MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetization transfer (MT) imaging, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS)) to serve as prognostic markers in NMDC. While DTI in NMDC patients consistently detected lower fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity at compressed levels, caused by demyelination and axonal injury, MT and 1H-MRS, along with advanced and tract-specific diffusion MRI, recently revealed microstructural alterations, also rostrally pointing to Wallerian degeneration. Recent studies also disclosed a significant relationship between microstructural damage and functional deficits, as assessed by qMRI and electrophysiology, respectively. Thus, tract-specific qMRI, in combination with electrophysiology, critically extends our understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of degenerative spinal cord compression and may provide predictive markers of DCM development for accurate patient management. However, the prognostic value must be validated in longitudinal studies. Full article
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23 pages, 3833 KiB  
Review
Diffusion-Weighted MRI in the Genitourinary System
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(7), 1921; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11071921 - 30 Mar 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3687
Abstract
Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) constitutes a major functional parameter performed in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The DW sequence is performed by acquiring a set of native images described by their b-values, each b-value representing the strength of the diffusion MR gradients specific to [...] Read more.
Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) constitutes a major functional parameter performed in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The DW sequence is performed by acquiring a set of native images described by their b-values, each b-value representing the strength of the diffusion MR gradients specific to that sequence. By fitting the data with models describing the motion of water in tissue, an apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) map is built and allows the assessment of water mobility inside the tissue. The high cellularity of tumors restricts the water diffusion and decreases the value of ADC within tumors, which makes them appear hypointense on ADC maps. The role of this sequence now largely exceeds its first clinical apparitions in neuroimaging, whereby the method helped diagnose the early phases of cerebral ischemic stroke. The applications extend to whole-body imaging for both neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases. This review emphasizes the integration of DWI in the genitourinary system imaging by outlining the sequence’s usage in female pelvis, prostate, bladder, penis, testis and kidney MRI. In gynecologic imaging, DWI is an essential sequence for the characterization of cervix tumors and endometrial carcinomas, as well as to differentiate between leiomyosarcoma and benign leiomyoma of the uterus. In ovarian epithelial neoplasms, DWI provides key information for the characterization of solid components in heterogeneous complex ovarian masses. In prostate imaging, DWI became an essential part of multi-parametric Magnetic Resonance Imaging (mpMRI) to detect prostate cancer. The Prostate Imaging–Reporting and Data System (PI-RADS) scoring the probability of significant prostate tumors has significantly contributed to this success. Its contribution has established mpMRI as a mandatory examination for the planning of prostate biopsies and radical prostatectomy. Following a similar approach, DWI was included in multiparametric protocols for the bladder and the testis. In renal imaging, DWI is not able to robustly differentiate between malignant and benign renal tumors but may be helpful to characterize tumor subtypes, including clear-cell and non-clear-cell renal carcinomas or low-fat angiomyolipomas. One of the most promising developments of renal DWI is the estimation of renal fibrosis in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. In conclusion, DWI constitutes a major advancement in genitourinary imaging with a central role in decision algorithms in the female pelvis and prostate cancer, now allowing promising applications in renal imaging or in the bladder and testicular mpMRI. Full article
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20 pages, 1886 KiB  
Review
Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Ovarian Cancer: Exploiting Strengths and Understanding Limitations
J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11(6), 1524; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11061524 - 10 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4415
Abstract
Detection, characterization, staging, and response assessment are key steps in the imaging pathway of ovarian cancer. The most common type, high grade serous ovarian cancer, often presents late, so that accurate disease staging and response assessment are required through imaging in order to [...] Read more.
Detection, characterization, staging, and response assessment are key steps in the imaging pathway of ovarian cancer. The most common type, high grade serous ovarian cancer, often presents late, so that accurate disease staging and response assessment are required through imaging in order to improve patient management. Currently, computerized tomography (CT) is the most common method for these tasks, but due to its poor soft-tissue contrast, it is unable to quantify early response within lesions before shrinkage is observed by size criteria. Therefore, quantifiable techniques, such as diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI), which generates high contrast between tumor and healthy tissue, are increasingly being explored. This article discusses the basis of diffusion-weighted contrast and the technical issues that must be addressed in order to achieve optimal implementation and robust quantifiable diffusion-weighted metrics in the abdomen and pelvis. The role of DW-MRI in characterizing adnexal masses in order to distinguish benign from malignant disease, and to differentiate borderline from frankly invasive malignancy is discussed, emphasizing the importance of morphological imaging over diffusion-weighted metrics in this regard. Its key role in disease staging and predicting resectability in comparison to CT is addressed, including its valuable use as a biomarker for following response within individual lesions, where early changes in the apparent diffusion coefficient in peritoneal metastases may be detected. Finally, the task of implementing DW-MRI into clinical trials in order to validate this biomarker for clinical use are discussed, along with the trials that include it within their protocols. Full article
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