Objectives: To establish normal bone marrow values of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) over an age range, compare them with metastatic and myelomatous involvement, to establish reproducibility and to optimise b values.
Methods: The ADCs of bone marrow in 7 volunteers (mean age 29.7 years), 34 volunteers (mean age 63.3 years) and 43 patients with metastatic and myelomatous involvement (mean age 65.5 years) were measured. In 9 volunteers diffusion weighted MRI was repeated within 7 days. b values were derived to optimise contrast between normal and pathological marrow.
Results: The mean ADC of bone marrow in younger volunteers was significantly higher than that of older volunteers. The coefficient of reproducibility was 14.8%. The ADC mean of metastatic and myeloma bone disease was 1054 + / -456 x 10⁻⁶mm²s⁻¹. An ADC threshold of 655 × 10(-6) mm(2)s(-1) separated normal and abnormal marrow with a sensitivity and specificity of 90% and 93% respectively. Contrast between normal and abnormal marrow was optimal at b = 1389 smm(-2).
Conclusion: The reproducibility of ADC measurements in bone is equivalent to published data for soft tissue with a high sensitivity and specificity for separating abnormal from age matched normal bone marrow. A b value of around 1,400 smm(-2) is optimal for imaging bone marrow.