Cancer angiogenesis can be imaged by using dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI). Pharmacokinetic modeling can be used to assess vascular perfusion and permeability, but the assessment of angiogenic changes in the microvascular architecture remains challenging. This article presents 2 models enabling the characterization of the microvascular architecture by DCE-MRI.Theory
The microvascular architecture is reflected in the dispersion coefficient according to the convective dispersion equation. A solution of this equation, combined with the Tofts model, permits defining a dispersion model for magnetic resonance imaging. A reduced dispersion model is also presented.Methods
The proposed models were evaluated for prostate cancer diagnosis. Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging was performed, and concentration-time curves were calculated in each voxel. The simultaneous generation of parametric maps related to permeability and dispersion was obtained through model fitting. A preliminary validation was carried out through comparison with the histology in 15 patients referred for radical prostatectomy.Results
Cancer localization was accurate with both dispersion models, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve greater than 0.8. None of the compared parameters, aimed at assessing vascular permeability and perfusion, showed better results.Conclusions
A new DCE-MRI method is proposed to characterize the microvascular architecture through the assessment of intravascular dispersion, without the need for separate arterial-input-function estimation. The results are promising and encourage further research.