Diffusion-weighted MRI of cholesteatomas of the petrous bone

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2002 Jun;15(6):636-41. doi: 10.1002/jmri.10118.


Purpose: To investigate if primary cholesteatomas of the petrous bone show high signal in diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI).

Materials and methods: In this blinded study, we compared 15 patients with clinically certain cases and later surgically proven cholesteatomas vs. 12 patients with clinically acute otitis of the middle ear and 20 volunteers without petrous bone disease. Two blinded readers without knowledge of the clinical data decided in consensus agreement whether there was a pathologic signal increase in the petrous bone in an anisotropic single-shot echo-planar imaging (EPI) DWI sequence, an artifact, or no signal increase.

Results: Thirteen of 15 patients with cholesteatomas showed bright signal in EPI DWI, whereas 10 of 12 patients with acute otitis media and all volunteers presented the usual low signal of petrous bone.

Conclusion: EPI DWI is a fast diagnostic method that may be an additional valuable tool in the workup of suspected cholesteatomas. The ability of this technique to differentiate between cholesteatomas and granulomas or chronic otitis is not yet available.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Cholesteatoma / pathology*
  • Ear, Middle / pathology
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Otitis Media / pathology
  • Petrous Bone / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies