Renal cell carcinoma: dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging for differentiation of tumor subtypes—correlation with pathologic findings

Maryellen R M Sun, Long Ngo, Elizabeth M Genega, Michael B Atkins, Myra E Finn, Neil M Rofsky, Ivan Pedrosa
Radiology 2009, 250 (3): 793-802

PURPOSE: To retrospectively evaluate whether the enhancement patterns of pathologically proved clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) measured on clinical dynamic contrast agent-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) images permit accurate diagnosis of RCC subtype.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was Institutional Review Board approved and HIPAA compliant; informed consent was waived. One hundred twelve patients (76 men, 36 women; age range, 25-88 years; mean age, 58.1 years) underwent MR imaging of 113 renal masses (mean diameter, 5.4 cm) with pathologic diagnoses of clear cell (n = 75), papillary (n = 28), or chromophobe (n = 10) RCC. A 1.5-T clinical MR protocol was used before and after (corticomedullary and nephrographic phases) intravenous administration of contrast agent. Region-of-interest measurements within tumor and uninvolved renal cortex were used to calculate percentage signal intensity change and tumor-to-cortex enhancement index. Subtype groups were compared by using linear mixed-effects models. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed for the comparison of clear cell and papillary RCCs.

RESULTS: On both the corticomedullary and nephrographic phase images, clear cell RCCs showed greater signal intensity change (205.6% and 247.1%, respectively) than did papillary RCCs (32.1% and 96.6%, respectively) (P < .001). Chromophobe RCCs showed intermediate change (109.9% and 192.5%, respectively). The tumor-to-cortex enhancement indexes at corticomedullary and nephrographic phases were largest for clear cell RCCs (1.4 and 1.2, respectively), smallest for papillary RCCs (0.2 and 0.4, respectively), and intermediate for chromophobe RCCs (0.6 and 0.8, respectively). Signal intensity changes on corticomedullary phase images were the most effective parameter for distinguishing clear cell and papillary RCC (area under ROC curve, 0.99); a threshold value of 84% permitted distinction with 93% sensitivity and 96% specificity.

CONCLUSION: Clear cell, papillary, and chromophobe RCCs demonstrate different patterns of enhancement on two-time point clinical dynamic contrast-enhanced MR images, allowing their differentiation with high sensitivity and specificity.

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