Malignant astrocytic tumors: clinical importance of apparent diffusion coefficient in prediction of grade and prognosis

Radiology. 2006 Dec;241(3):839-46. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2413051276. Epub 2006 Oct 10.


Purpose: To retrospectively assess the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) for prediction of malignancy and prognosis of malignant astrocytic tumors.

Materials and methods: The institutional review board approved this study and did not require patient informed consent. Findings from 37 consecutive patients (21 men, 16 women; mean age, 43 years) with pathologically proved malignant astrocytic tumors that included 22 glioblastomas (GBMs) and 15 anaplastic astrocytomas (AAs) were retrospectively evaluated. The minimum ADC value of each tumor was preoperatively determined from several regions of interest defined in the tumor, preferably with avoidance of cystic or necrotic components, on ADC maps derived from isotropic diffusion-weighted images. Surgical intervention, followed by radiation therapy, was undertaken in all cases according to hospital protocol. Immunohistologically, Ki-67 labeling index (LI), indicating cell proliferation, was also determined. The patients were classified into two groups, progressive and stable, according to the 2-year observation after the initial treatment. Correlation analysis (Pearson product moment correlation), Student t test, Welch test, receiver operating characteristic analysis, and Kaplan-Meier method with log-rank test were used for statistical evaluation.

Results: There was a significant negative correlation between minimum ADC and Ki-67 LI (r = -0.562, P < .001). The mean minimum ADC (0.834 x 10(-3) mm2 x sec(-1)) of GBM was significantly lower than that (1.06 x 10(-3) mm2 x sec(-1)) of AA (P < .001, Student t test). The mean minimum ADC (0.80 x 10(-3) mm2 x sec(-1)) of the progressive group was significantly lower than that (1.037 x 10(-3) mm2 x sec(-1)) of the stable group (P < .001). The cutoff value of 0.90 x 10(-3) mm2 x sec(-1) for minimum ADC for differentiation of patients with a favorable prognosis from those with a poor prognosis provided the best combination of sensitivity (79%) and specificity (81%) (receiver operating characteristic analysis). The significant difference in the prognosis between two groups classified by using this cutoff value of minimum ADC was noted (P = .002, log-rank test).

Conclusion: The minimum ADC of malignant astrocytomas can provide additional information about their clinical malignancy related to posttreatment prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Astrocytoma / therapy
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Ki-67 Antigen / analysis
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ki-67 Antigen