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The role of dynamic susceptibility contrast-enhanced perfusion MR imaging in differentiating between infectious and neoplastic focal brain lesions: results from a cohort of 100 consecutive patients.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Differentiating between infectious and neoplastic focal brain lesions that are detected by conventional structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be a challenge in routine practice. Brain perfusion-weighted MRI (PWI) may be employed as a complementary non-invasive tool, providing relevant data on hemodynamic parameters, such as the degree of angiogenesis of lesions. We aimed to employ dynamic susceptibility contrast-enhanced perfusion MR imaging (DSC-MRI) to differentiate between infectious and neoplastic brain lesions by investigating brain microcirculation changes.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: DSC-MRI perfusion studies of one hundred consecutive patients with non-cortical neoplastic (n = 54) and infectious (n = 46) lesions were retrospectively assessed. MRI examinations were performed using a 1.5-T scanner. A preload of paramagnetic contrast agent (gadolinium) was administered 30 seconds before acquisition of dynamic images, followed by a standard dose 10 seconds after starting imaging acquisitions. The relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV) values were determined by calculating the regional cerebral blood volume in the solid areas of lesions, normalized to that of the contralateral normal-appearing white matter. Discriminant analyses were performed to determine the cutoff point of rCBV values that would allow the differentiation of neoplastic from infectious lesions and to assess the corresponding diagnostic performance of rCBV when using this cutoff value.

RESULTS: Neoplastic lesions had higher rCBV values (4.28±2.11) than infectious lesions (0.63±0.49) (p<0.001). When using an rCBV value <1.3 as the parameter to define infectious lesions, the sensitivity of the method was 97.8% and the specificity was 92.6%, with a positive predictive value of 91.8%, a negative predictive value of 98.0%, and an accuracy of 95.0%.

CONCLUSION: PWI is a useful complementary tool in distinguishing between infectious and neoplastic brain lesions; an elevated discriminatory value for diagnosis of infectious brain lesions was observed in this sample of patients when the rCBV cutoff value was set to 1.3.

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