Preoperative diagnosis of ovarian tumors with MR imaging: comparison with transvaginal sonography, positron emission tomography, and histologic findings

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Jul;177(1):123-9. doi: 10.2214/ajr.177.1.1770123.


Objective: Our study evaluated the diagnostic performance of MR imaging compared with that of transvaginal sonography and positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with clinically asymptomatic adnexal findings. An additional goal was to determine whether the combination of the three methods enhanced their diagnostic accuracy.

Subjects and methods: Included in the study were 103 women with suspicious adnexal findings on sonography. Patients underwent transvaginal sonography, MR imaging, and PET within 3 weeks of the initial sonography. For MR imaging, axial and sagittal T1-weighted gradient-echo sequences (unenhanced and enhanced) and T2-weighted turbo-spin-echo sequences were acquired. Transvaginal sonography was performed with a 7.5-MHz transducer head. For PET, a modern full-ring scanner was used. The results of diagnostic imaging techniques were first evaluated separately, and reviewers were blinded to the results of other methods. Finally, a second session resulted in a consensus diagnosis based on the findings of all three methods. Results of histology were considered the gold standard.

Results: Histology revealed 12 malignant and 91 benign ovarian tumors. The following data were calculated for MR imaging, transvaginal sonography, PET, and consensus diagnosis: sensitivities, 83%, 92%, 58%, 92%; specificities, 84%, 59%, 78%, 84%; diagnostic accuracies, 83%, 63%, 76%, 85%, respectively. MR imaging, particularly with contrast-enhanced fat-saturated T1-weighted sequences, was found to correctly reveal dermoid and endometrial cysts. All three methods had false-negative findings with borderline tumors.

Conclusion: Transvaginal sonography is the diagnostic method of choice as a screening technique for ovarian processes. Suspicious findings on transvaginal sonography should be confirmed on MR imaging. If MR imaging confirms a dermoid or endometrial cyst, further diagnostic procedures may be unnecessary. In all other cases, a surgical evaluation must be considered.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler*
  • Vagina