Surgical resection is currently the best treatment for salivary gland tumors. A reliable magnetic resonance imaging mapping, encompassing tumor grade, location, and extension may assist safe and effective tumor resection and provide better information for patients regarding potential risks and morbidity after surgical intervention. However, direct examination of the tumor grade and extension using conventional morphological MRI remains difficult, often requiring contrast media injection and complex algorithms on perfusion imaging to estimate the degree of malignancy. In addition, contrast-enhanced MRI technique may be problematic due to the recently demonstrated gadolinium accumulation in the dentate nucleus of the cerebellum. Significant developments in magnetic resonance diffusion imaging, involving voxel-based quantitative analysis through the measurement of the apparent diffusion coefficient, have enhanced our knowledge on the different histopathological salivary tumor grades. Other diffusion imaging-derived techniques, including high-order tractography models, have recently demonstrated their usefulness in assessing the facial nerve location in parotid tumor context. All of these imaging techniques do not require contrast media injection. Our review starts by outlining the physical basis of diffusion imaging, before discussing findings from diagnostic studies testing its usefulness in assessing salivary glands tumors with diffusion MRI.
Keywords: diffusion imaging; diffusion tractography; magnetic resonance imaging; salivary glands.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.