Functional tumor imaging with dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2003 May;17(5):509-20. doi: 10.1002/jmri.10304.


Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) is the acquisition of serial MRI images before, during, and after the administration of an MR contrast agent. Unlike conventional enhanced MRI, which simply provides a snapshot of enhancement at one point in time, DCE-MRI permits a fuller depiction of the wash-in and wash-out contrast kinetics within tumors, and thus provides insight into the nature of the bulk tissue properties. Such data is readily amenable to two-compartment pharmacokinetic modeling from which parameters based on the rates of exchange between the compartments can be generated. These parameters can be used to generate color-encoded images that aid in the visual assessment of tumors. DCE-MRI is used currently to characterize masses, stage tumors, and noninvasively monitor therapy. While DCE-MRI is in clinical use, there are also a number of limitations, including overlap between malignant and benign inflammatory tissue, failure to resolve microscopic disease, and the inconsistent predictive value of enhancement pattern with regard to clinical outcome. Current research focuses on improving understanding of the meaning of DCE-MRI at a molecular level, evaluating macromolecular and targeted contrast agents, and combining DCE-MRI with other physiologic imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography. Efforts to standardize DCE-MRI acquisition, analysis, and reporting methods will allow wider dissemination of this useful functional imaging technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / diagnosis


  • Contrast Media