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Potential predictive value of IVIM MR for xerostomia in nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Xerostomia, caused by radiation-induced parotid damage, is the most commonly reported radiotherapy (RT) complication for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the value of intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) MR in monitoring radiation-induced parotid gland damage and predicting the risk of xerostomia.

METHODS: Fifty-four NPC patients were enrolled and underwent at least three IVIM MR scans: before (pre-RT), after 5 fractions of (5th-RT), halfway through (mid-RT), and after RT (post-RT). The degree of xerostomia patients was assessed before each MR examination. Furthermore, the time when patients first reported xerostomia symptoms was recorded. The changes in IVIM parameters throughout RT, as well as the relationships between IVIM parameters and xerostomia, were analysed.

RESULT: All IVIM parameters increased significantly from pre-RT to post-RT (p < 0.001). The rates of D, D* and f increase increased significantly from pre-RT to mid-RT (p < 0.001), indicating that cell necrosis mainly occurs in the first half of RT. In multivariate analysis, N3 (p = 0.014), pre-D (p = 0.007) and pre-D* (p = 0.003) were independent factors influencing xerostomia. D and f were significantly higher at 5th-RT than at pre-RT (both p < 0.05). IVIM detected parotid gland injury at 5th-RT at an average scanning time of 6.18 ± 1.07 days, earlier than the 11.94 ± 2.61 days when the patient first complained of xerostomia according to the RTOG scale (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: IVIM MR can dynamically monitor radiation-induced parotid gland damage and assess it earlier and more objectively than RTOG toxicity. Moreover, IVIM can screen people at risk of more severe xerostomia early.

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