MRI and PET/CT of patients with bone metastases from breast carcinoma

J Grankvist, R Fisker, V Iyer, E T Fründ, C Simonsen, T Christensen, L Stenbygaard, M Ewertz, E-M Larsson
European Journal of Radiology 2012, 81 (1): e13-8
3.0Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) was compared with combined 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) in patients with suspected bone metastases from breast cancer. A prospective clinical study was performed in 13 female breast cancer patients (mean age 61years; range 45-85 years). The spine was imaged in the sagittal plane with T1-weighted (T1), short tau inversion recovery (STIR), and T2-weighted fat-saturated (T2) sequences. The pelvis was imaged similarly in the coronal plane. Axial DWI was performed from the skull base to the mid-thigh. MRI and PET/CT were performed in all patients at a maximum interval of 10 working days and at least 14 days after chemotherapy. MRI was reviewed by two radiologists, and their consensus on potential metastases in 27 predefined locations was recorded. The predefined locations were the vertebral bodies (24), the left (1) and right (1) pelvic bones, and the sacral bone (1). The PET/CT was reviewed by a radiologists and a nuclear medicine physician. MRI detected 59 of the 60 active metastases found with our gold standard modality PET/CT. T1 had the highest sensitivity (98%) but rather low specificity (77%), but with the addition of STIR and DWI, the specificity increased to 95%. The additional metastases detected with MRI most likely represented postherapeutic residual scars without active tumour. In conclusion, 3.0Tesla MRI with T1, STIR, and DWI is useful for the clinical evaluation of bone metastases from breast cancer and compares well to PET/CT.

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