Breast Cancer: Diffusion Kurtosis MR Imaging-Diagnostic Accuracy and Correlation with Clinical-Pathologic Factors

Radiology. 2015 Oct;277(1):46-55. doi: 10.1148/radiol.15141625. Epub 2015 May 4.


Purpose: To assess diagnostic accuracy with diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI) in patients with breast lesions and to evaluate the potential association between DKI-derived parameters and breast cancer clinical-pathologic factors.

Materials and methods: Institutional review board approval and written informed consent were obtained. Data from 97 patients (mean age ± standard deviation, 45.7 years ± 13.1; range, 19-70 years) with 98 lesions (57 malignant and 41 benign) who were treated between January 2014 and April 2014 were retrospectively analyzed. DKI (with b values of 0-2800 sec/mm(2)) and conventional diffusion-weighted imaging data were acquired. Kurtosis and diffusion coefficients from DKI and apparent diffusion coefficients from diffusion-weighted imaging were measured by two radiologists. Student t test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, Jonckheere-Terpstra test, receiver operating characteristic curves, and Spearman correlation were used for statistical analysis.

Results: Kurtosis coefficients were significantly higher in the malignant lesions than in the benign lesions (1.05 ± 0.22 vs 0.65 ± 0.11, respectively; P < .0001). Diffusivity and apparent diffusion coefficients in the malignant lesions were significantly lower than those in the benign lesions (1.13 ± 0.27 vs 1.97 ± 0.33 and 1.02 ± 0.18 vs 1.48 ± 0.33, respectively; P < .0001). Significantly higher specificity for differentiation of malignant from benign lesions was shown with the use of kurtosis and diffusivity coefficients than with the use of apparent diffusion coefficients (83% [34 of 41] and 83% [34 of 41] vs 76% [31 of 41], respectively; P < .0001) with equal sensitivity (95% [54 of 57]). In patients with invasive breast cancer, kurtosis was positively correlated with tumor histologic grade (r = 0.75) and expression of the Ki-67 protein (r = 0.55). Diffusivity was negatively correlated with tumor histologic grades (r = -0.44) and Ki-67 expression (r = -0.46).

Conclusion: DKI showed higher specificity than did conventional diffusion-weighted imaging for assessment of benign and malignant breast lesions. Patients with grade 3 breast cancer or tumors with high expression of Ki-67 were associated with higher kurtosis and lower diffusivity coefficients; however, this association must be confirmed in prospective studies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult