Comparative study into the robustness of compartmental modeling and model-free analysis in DCE-MRI studies

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2006 Apr;23(4):554-63. doi: 10.1002/jmri.20529.


Purpose: To evaluate and compare the reproducibility of the preferred phenomenological parameter IAUC60 (initial area under the time-concentration curve [IAUC] defined over the first 60 seconds postenhancement) with the preferred modeling parameter (K(trans)), as derived using two simple models, in abdominal and cerebral data collected in typical Phase I clinical trial conditions.

Materials and methods: Dynamic contrast enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) time series were acquired at two imaging centers from a group of patients with abdominal tumors and a group with gliomas. At both imaging centers, precontrast T1 was calculated using a variable flip angle three-dimensional spoiled gradient echo acquisition that was used to quantify tissue contrast agent concentration, allowing voxelwise definition of summary DCE-MRI parameters.

Results: A comparison of reproducibility showed that there was no statistically significant difference in reproducibility between IAUC60 and K(trans), although there was a trend towards better reproducibility for K(trans) (P = 0.0782). The 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for individual changes showed that for IAUC60 and K(trans), changes in excess of 47% and 31%, respectively, are outside the range of normal variability.

Conclusion: Although modeling is more complex and more computationally intensive than an IAUC parameterization, our data suggest this approach to be preferable to a model-free approach since it provides greater physiological insight without a reduction in statistical power for Phase I/II clinical drug trials.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA