The objective of this study is to determine the role of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) value at 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the characterization of pancreatic cystic lesions.
We retrospectively selected a total number of 223 patients with a conclusive diagnosis of pancreatic cystic lesion, previously undergoing MR examination on a 3 T system. The MRI protocol first included axial T1/T2-weighted sequences and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography. Diffusion-weighted MRI was performed using a spin-echo echo-planar sequence with multiple b values (0, 150, 500, 1000, and 1500 s/mm2) in all diffusion directions, obtaining an ADC map. Contrast-enhanced T1-weighted sequences were performed during the initial work-up of a pancreatic cystic lesion and when signs of malignancy were suspected during the MRI follow-up. The ADC value of each pancreatic lesion was measured using a monoexponential curve fitting with all the multiple b.
The final diagnosis of our study group included the following: serous cystadenomas (n = 42), mucinous cystadenomas (n = 14), intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) (n = 121), IPMNs with signs of malignancy at histopathologic examination (n = 24), pseudocysts (n = 9), other cystic lesions (n = 13). A statistically significant difference was observed between the ADC values of malignant IPMNs and those of each other group of pancreatic lesions (P < 0.001). The ADC value of benign IPMN was significantly higher than that of serous cystadenomas (P = 0.024). A statistically significant difference was observed between the ADCs of all mucinous cystic tumors (benign IPMNs together to mucinous cystadenomas) and the ADCs of serous cystadenomas (P = 0.014).
Fitted ADC value obtained at 3T MRI may be helpful in the characterization of pancreatic cystic lesions with particular regards of differential diagnosis between mucinous and serous cystic tumors and between malignant and benign IPMNs.