The role of diffusion-weighted imaging and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values for breast tumors

Korean J Radiol. 2007 Sep-Oct;8(5):390-6. doi: 10.3348/kjr.2007.8.5.390.


Objective: We wanted to evaluate the role of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) for detecting breast tumors, as compared with the T1- and T2-weighted images.

Materials and methods: Forty-one female patients underwent breast MRI, and this included the T1-, T2-, DWI and dynamic contrast-enhanced images. Sixty-five enhancing lesions were detected on the dynamic contrast-enhanced images and we used this as a reference image for detecting tumor. Fifty-six breast lesions were detected on DWI and the histological diagnoses were as follows: 43 invasive ductal carcinomas, one mucinous carcinoma, one mixed infiltrative and mucinous carcinoma, seven ductal carcinomas in situ (DCIS), and four benign tumors. First, we compared the detectability of breast lesions on DWI with that of the T1- and T2-weighted images. We then compared the ADCs of the malignant and benign breast lesions to the ADCs of the normal fibroglandular tissue.

Results: Fifty-six lesions were detected via DWI (detectability of 86.2%). The detectabilities of breast lesions on the T1- and T2-weighted imaging were 61.5% (40/65) and 75.4% (49/65), respectively. The mean ADCs of the invasive ductal carcinoma (0.89+/-0.18 x 10(-3)mm(2)/second) and DCIS (1.17+/-0.18 x 10(-3)mm(2)/ second) are significantly lower than those of the benign lesions (1.41+/-0.56 x 10(-3)mm(2)/second) and the normal fibroglandular tissue (1.51+/-0.29 x 10(-3)mm(2)/ second).

Conclusion: DWI has a high sensitivity for detecting breast tumors, and especially for detecting malignant breast tumors. DWI was an effective imaging technique for detecting breast lesions, as compared to using the T1- and T2-weighted images.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / diagnosis*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA