Objective: To compare sensitivity and specificity of endovaginal versus external-array coil T2-W and T2-W + DWI for detecting and staging small cervical tumours.
Methods: Optimised endovaginal and external array coil MRI at 3.0-T was done prospectively in 48 consecutive patients with stage Ia/Ib1 cervical cancer. Sensitivity/specificity for detecting tumour and parametrial extension against histopathology for a reading radiologist were determined on coronal T2-W and T2W + DW images. An independent radiologist also scored T2-W images without and with addition of DWI for the external-array and endovaginal coils on separate occasions >2 weeks apart. Cohen's kappa assessed inter- and intra-observer agreement.
Results: Median tumour volume in 19/38 cases positive on subsequent histology was 1.75 cm(3). Sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV were: reading radiologist 91.3 %, 89.5 %, 91.3 %, 89.5 %, respectively; independent radiologist T2-W 82.6 %, 73.7 %, 79.1 %, 77.8 % for endovaginal, 73.9 %, 89.5 %, 89.5 %, 73.9 % for external-array coil. Adding DWI improved sensitivity and specificity of endovaginal imaging (78.2 %, 89.5 %); adding DWI to external-array imaging improved specificity (94.7 %) but reduced sensitivity (66.7 %). Inter- and intra-observer agreement on T2-W + DWI was good (kappa = 0.67 and 0.62, respectively).
Conclusion: Endovaginal coil T2-W MRI is more sensitive than external-array coil for detecting tumours <2 cm(3); adding DWI improves specificity of endovaginal imaging but reduces sensitivity of external-array imaging.
Key points: • Endovaginal more accurate than external-array T2-W MRI for detecting small cervical cancers. • Addition of DWI improves sensitivity and specificity of endovaginal T2-W imaging. • Addition of DWI substantially reduces sensitivity of external-array T2-W imaging.
Keywords: Cervical cancer; Diffusion-weighted MRI; Endovaginal coil; External array coil; Fertility.