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Clinical application of pharmacokinetic analysis as a biomarker of solitary pulmonary nodules: Dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging



The purpose of this study is to evaluate perfusion indices and pharmacokinetic parameters in solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs). Thirty patients of 34 enrolled with SPNs (15–30 mm) were evaluated in this study. T1 and T2-weighted structural images and 2D turbo FLASH perfusion images were acquired with shallow free breathing. B-spline nonrigid image registration and optimization by χ2 test against pharmacokinetic model curve were performed on dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI. This allowed voxel-by-voxel calculation of kep, the rate constant for tracer transport to and from plasma and the extravascular extracellular space. Mean transit time, time-to-peak, initial slope, and maximum enhancement (Emax) were calculated from time–intensity curves fitted to a gamma variate function. After blinded data analysis, correlation with tissue histology from surgical resection or biopsy samples was performed. Histologic evaluation revealed 25 malignant and five benign SPNs. All benign SPNs had kep < 1.0 min−1. Nineteen of 25 (76%) malignant SPNs showed kep > 1.0 min−1. Sensitivity to diagnose malignant SPNs at a cutoff of kep = 1.0 min−1 was 76%, specificity was 100%, positive predictive value was 100%, negative predictive value was 45%, and accuracy was 80%. Of all indices studied, kep was the most significant in differentiating malignant from benign SPNs. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.