Usefulness of noncontrast MRI in differentiation between gallbladder carcinoma and benign conditions manifesting as focal mild wall thickening

Clin Imaging. Mar-Apr 2019;54:63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.clinimag.2018.12.001. Epub 2018 Dec 4.


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a reliable imaging tool for evaluating gallbladder carcinoma, but it is costly and time-consuming.

Purpose: To compare noncontrast MRI with multidetector row CT (MDCT) and gadoxetic acid-enhanced whole MRI in distinguishing gallbladder carcinoma from benign disease.

Materials and methods: 101 patients (36 with gallbladder carcinoma and 65 with benign disease) with mild focal gallbladder wall thickening were included. Two radiologists reviewed the MDCT and MRI to determine the differential features between malignancy and benignity. Then, the diagnostic performance of MDCT and MRI (T1-, T2- and diffusion-weighted images) with and without gadoxetic acid enhancement in the diagnosis of gallbladder carcinoma was evaluated.

Results: The benign group more often showed T2 necklace sign or T2 hyperintensity within the thickened wall (P < 0.0001) and T1 hyperintensity within the wall or gallbladder lumen (P = 0.0002). Meanwhile, malignancy more frequently showed T2 moderate hyperintensity of the thickened wall, papillary appearance, and diffusion restriction (all P < 0.0001). There were significant differences in sensitivity (79.2% vs 98.6% for observer 1; 84.7% vs 100% for observer 2) and specificity (80.7% vs 96.9%; 79.2% vs 95.4%) between the MDCT and noncontrast MRI (P < 0.05). We found similar diagnostic values between the noncontrast MRI and whole MRI (P = 0.479-1.000) for both observers.

Conclusion: Noncontrast MRI could be a useful alternative to gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI in the diagnosis of gallbladder carcinoma that presents as mild gallbladder wall thickening on MDCT.

Keywords: Contrast agents-intravenous noncontrast MRI; Gallbladder, carcinoma; MR-imaging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Contrast Media
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Gallbladder / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallbladder / pathology*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiologists
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media
  • gadolinium ethoxybenzyl DTPA
  • Gadolinium DTPA