Objective: Fractional anisotropy (FA) is a measure for the degree of microstructural organization. Several studies have used FA values to assess microstructural organization of brain tumors and peritumoral edema. The purpose of our study was to validate FA and apparent diffusion constant (ADC) values in the diagnosis of meningiomas versus high-grade glial tumors, with the focus on the ability of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reveal tumor ultrastructure. Our hypothesis was that FA and ADC values significantly differ between high-grade gliomas and meningiomas, and in the peritumoral edema.
Methods: Diffusion tensor imaging values were obtained from 20 patients with meningiomas (21 tumors) and 15 patients with high-grade gliomas. Regions of interest were outlined in FA and ADC maps for solid-enhancing tumor tissue and peritumoral edema. Fractional anisotropy and ADC values were normalized by comparison to normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) in the contralateral hemisphere. Differences between meningiomas and high-grade gliomas were statistically analyzed.
Results: Meningiomas showed a significantly higher FA tumor/FA NAWM ratio (P = 0.0001) and lower ADC tumor/ADC NAWM ratio (P = 0.0008) compared to high-grade gliomas. On average, meningiomas also showed higher FA values in peritumoral edema than high-grade gliomas (P = 0.016). Apparent diffusion constant values of peritumoral edema for the 2 tumor groups did not differ significantly (P = 0.5).
Conclusions: Diffusion tensor imaging can be used to reveal microstructural differences between meningiomas and high-grade gliomas and may contribute toward predicting the histopathology of intracranial tumors. We advocate that diffusion tensor imaging should be included in the standard imaging protocol for patients with intracranial tumors.