Quantitative evaluation of benign and malignant vertebral fractures with diffusion-weighted MRI: what is the optimum combination of b values for ADC-based lesion differentiation with the single-shot turbo spin-echo sequence?

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2014 Sep;203(3):582-8. doi: 10.2214/AJR.13.11632.


Objective: The purpose of our study was to determine the optimum combination of b values for calculating the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) using a diffusion-weighted (DW) single-shot turbo spin-echo (TSE) sequence in the differentiation between acute benign and malignant vertebral body fractures.

Subjects and methods: Twenty-six patients with osteoporotic (mean age, 69 years; range, 31.5-86.2 years) and 20 patients with malignant vertebral fractures (mean age, 63.4 years; range, 24.7-86.4 years) were studied. T1-weighted, STIR, and T2-weighted sequences were acquired at 1.5 T. A DW single-shot TSE sequence at different b values (100, 250, 400, and 600 s/mm(2)) was applied. On the DW images for each evaluated fracture, an ROI was manually adapted to the area of hyperintense signal intensity on STIR-hypointense signal on T1-weighted images. For each ROI, nine different combinations of two, three, and four b values were used to calculate the ADC using a least-squares algorithm. The Student t test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to determine significant differences between benign and malignant fractures. An ROC analysis and the Youden index were used to determine cutoff values for assessment of the highest sensitivity and specificity for the different ADC values. The positive (PPV) and negative predictive values (NPV) were also determined.

Results: All calculated ADCs (except the combination of b = 400 s/mm(2) and b = 600 s/mm(2)) showed statistically significant differences between benign and malignant vertebral body fractures, with benign fractures having higher ADCs than malignant ones. The use of higher b values resulted in lower ADCs than those calculated with low b values. The highest AUC (0.85) showed the ADCs calculated with b = 100 and 400 s/mm(2), and the second highest AUC (0.829) showed the ADCs calculated with b = 100, 250, and 400 s/mm(2). The Youden index with equal weight given to sensitivity and specificity suggests use of an ADC calculated with b = 100, 250, and 400 s/mm(2) (cutoff ADC, < 1.7 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s) to best diagnose malignancy (sensitivity, 85%; specificity, 84.6%; PPV, 81.0%; NPV, 88.0%).

Conclusion: ADCs calculated with a combination of low to intermediate b values (b = 100, 250, and 400 s/mm(2)) provide the best diagnostic performance of a DW single-shot TSE sequence to differentiate acute benign and malignant vertebral body fractures.

Keywords: diffusion-weighted MRI; malignant vertebral fracture; osteoporotic vertebral fracture.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / pathology*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Young Adult