MRI of orbital cellulitis and orbital abscess: the role of diffusion-weighted imaging

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Sep;193(3):W244-50. doi: 10.2214/AJR.08.1838.


Objective: Our aims were to describe the role of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in detecting abscess as a complication of orbital cellulitis and to assess whether abscess can be diagnosed with a combination of conventional unenhanced sequences and whole-brain DWI with parallel acquisition. Nine cases of orbital cellulitis imaged with MRI were retrospectively reviewed, including six cases with pyogenic abscess.

Conclusion: In this preliminary study, DWI improved diagnostic confidence in nearly all cases of orbital abscess when used in conjunction with contrast-enhanced imaging. DWI also confirmed abscess in a majority of cases without contrast-enhanced imaging, which may be of particular use when contrast material is contraindicated.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Contrast Media
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orbital Cellulitis / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Contrast Media
  • gadodiamide
  • Gadolinium DTPA