MRI diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in pediatric small bowel Crohn disease: correlation with MRI findings of active bowel wall inflammation

Pediatr Radiol. 2013 Sep;43(9):1077-85. doi: 10.1007/s00247-013-2712-3. Epub 2013 Aug 16.


Background: Restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) sequences during magnetic resonance enterography (MRE) has been shown in segments of bowel affected by Crohn disease. However, the exact meaning of this finding, particularly within the pediatric Crohn disease population, is poorly understood.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the significance of bowel wall restricted diffusion in children with small bowel Crohn disease by correlating apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values with other MRI markers of disease activity.

Materials and methods: A retrospective review of pediatric patients (≤ 18 years of age) with Crohn disease terminal ileitis who underwent MRE with DWI at our institution between May 1, 2009 and May 31, 2011 was undertaken. All of the children had either biopsy-proven Crohn disease terminal ileitis or clinically diagnosed Crohn disease, including terminal ileal involvement by imaging. The mean minimum ADC value within the wall of the terminal ileum was determined for each examination. ADC values were tested for correlation/association with other MRI findings to determine whether a relationship exists between bowel wall restricted diffusion and disease activity.

Results: Forty-six MRE examinations with DWI in children with terminal ileitis were identified (23 girls and 23 boys; mean age, 14.3 years). There was significant negative correlation or association between bowel wall minimum ADC value and established MRI markers of disease activity, including degree of bowel wall thickening (R = (-)0.43; P = 0.003), striated pattern of arterial enhancement (P = 0.01), degree of arterial enhancement (P = 0.01), degree of delayed enhancement (P = 0.045), amount of mesenteric inflammatory changes (P < 0.0001) and presence of a stricture (P = 0.02). ADC values were not significantly associated with bowel wall T2-weighted signal intensity, length of disease involvement or mesenteric fibrofatty proliferation.

Conclusion: Increasing bowel wall restricted diffusion (lower ADC values) is associated with multiple MRI findings that are traditionally associated with active inflammation in pediatric small bowel Crohn disease.

MeSH terms

  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Enteritis / etiology*
  • Enteritis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / pathology*
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity