Fat suppression techniques (STIR vs. SPAIR) on diffusion-weighted imaging of breast lesions at 3.0 T: preliminary experience

Radiol Med. 2015 Aug;120(8):705-13. doi: 10.1007/s11547-015-0508-2. Epub 2015 Feb 10.


Purpose: The aim of this work was to perform a qualitative and quantitative comparison of the performance of two fat suppression techniques on breast diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI).

Materials and methods: Fifty-one women underwent clinical breast magnetic resonance imaging, including DWI with short TI inversion recovery (STIR) and spectral attenuated inversion recovery (SPAIR). Four were excluded from the analysis due to image artefacts. Rating of fat suppression uniformity and lesion visibility were performed. Agreement between the two sequences was evaluated. Additionally, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values for normal gland, benign and malignant lesions were compared. Receiver operating characteristic analysis was also performed.

Results: From the 52 lesions found, 47 were detected by both sequences. DWI-STIR evidenced more homogeneous fat suppression (p = 0.03). Although these lesions were seen with both techniques, DWI-SPAIR evidenced higher score for lesion visibility in nine of them. SNR and CNR were comparable, except for SNR in benign lesions (p < 0.01), which was higher for DWI-SPAIR. Mean ADC values for lesions were similar. ADC for normal fibroglandular tissue was higher when using DWI-STIR (p = 0.006). Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and area under the curve values were alike: 84.0 % for both; 77.3, 71.4 %; 80.9, 78.3 %; 82.5, 81.3 % for DWI-SPAIR and DWI-STIR, respectively.

Conclusion: DWI-STIR showed superior fat suppression homogeneity. No differences were found for SNR and CNR, except for SNR in benign lesions. ADCs for lesions were comparable. Findings in this study are consistent with previous studies at 1.5 T, meaning that both fat suppression techniques are appropriate for breast DWI at 3.0 T.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Contrast Media
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media