Purpose: To assess the relevance of the signal intensity time course for the differential diagnosis of enhancing lesions in dynamic magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the breast.
Materials and methods: Two hundred sixty-six breast lesions were examined with a two-dimensional dynamic MR imaging series and subtraction postprocessing. Time-signal intensity curves of the lesions were obtained and classified according to their shapes as type I, which was steady enhancement; type II, plateau of signal intensity; or type III, washout of signal intensity. Enhancement rates and curve types of benign and malignant lesions were compared.
Results: There were 101 malignant and 165 benign lesions. The distribution of curve types for breast cancers was type I, 8.9%; type II, 33.6%; and type III, 57.4%. The distribution of curve types for benign lesions was type I, 83.0%; type II, 11.5%; and type III, 5.5%. The distributions proved significantly different (chi 2 = 139.6; P < .001). The diagnostic indices for signal intensity time course were sensitivity, 91%; specificity, 83%; and diagnostic accuracy, 86%. The diagnostic indices for the enhancement rate were sensitivity, 91%; specificity, 37%; and diagnostic accuracy, 58%.
Conclusion: The shape of the time-signal intensity curve is an important criterion in differentiating benign and malignant enhancing lesions in dynamic breast MR imaging. A type III time course is a strong indicator of malignancy and is independent of other criteria.