In vitro and in vivo repeatability of abdominal diffusion-weighted MRI.
ABSTRACT Objective To study the in vitro and in vivo (abdomen) variability of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) measurements at 1.5 T using a free-breathing multislice diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI sequence. Methods DW MRI images were obtained using a multislice spin-echo echo-planar imaging sequence with b-values=0, 100, 200, 500, 750 and 1000 s mm(-2). A flood-field phantom was imaged at regular intervals over 100 days, and 10 times on the same day on 2 occasions. 10 healthy volunteers were imaged on two separate occasions. Mono-exponential ADC maps were fitted excluding b=0. Paired analysis was carried out on the liver, spleen, kidney and gallbladder using multiple regions of interest (ROIs) and volumes of interest (VOIs). Results The in vitro coefficient of variation was 1.3% over 100 days, and 0.5% and 1.0% for both the daily experiments. In vivo, there was no statistical difference in the group mean ADC value between visits for any organ. Using ROIs, the coefficient of reproducibility was 20.0% for the kidney, 21.0% for the gallbladder, 24.7% for the liver and 28.0% for the spleen. For VOIs, values fall to 7.7%, 6.4%, 8.6% and 9.6%, respectively. Conclusion Good in vitro repeatability of ADC measurements provided a sound basis for in vivo measurement. In vivo variability is higher and when considering single measurements in the abdomen as a whole, only changes in ADC value greater than 23.1% would be statistically significant using a two-dimensional ROI. This value is substantially lower (7.9%) if large three-dimensional VOIs are considered.