Purpose: Assessment of radiologic response (RR) for brain tumors utilizes the Macdonald criteria 8 to 10 weeks from the start of treatment. Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using a functional diffusion map (fDM) may provide an earlier measure to predict patient survival.
Patients and methods: Sixty patients with high-grade glioma were enrolled onto a study of intratreatment MRI at 1, 3, and 10 weeks. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was used to evaluate imaging parameters as a function of patient survival at 1 year. Both log-rank and Cox proportional hazards models were utilized to assess overall survival.
Results: Greater increases in diffusion in response to therapy over time were observed in those patients alive at 1 year compared with those who died as a result of disease. The volume of tumor with increased diffusion by fDM at 3 weeks was the strongest predictor of patient survival at 1 year, with larger fDM predicting longer median survival (52.6 v 10.9 months; log-rank, P < .003; hazard ratio [HR] = 2.7; 95% CI, 1.5 to 5.9). Radiologic response at 10 weeks had similar prognostic value (median survival, 31.6 v 10.9 months; log-rank P < .0007; HR = 2.9; 95% CI, 1.7 to 7.2). Radiologic response and fDM differed in 25% of cases. A composite index of response including fDM and RR provided a robust predictor of patient survival and may identify patients in whom RR does not correlate with clinical outcome.
Conclusion: Compared with conventional neuroimaging, fDM provided an earlier assessment of equal predictive value, and the combination of fDM and RR provided a more accurate prediction of patient survival than either metric alone.