Metabolite ratios in 1H MR spectroscopic imaging of the prostate

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In 1H MR spectroscopic imaging (1H-MRSI) of the prostate the spatial distribution of the signal levels of the metabolites choline, creatine, polyamines, and citrate are assessed. The ratio of choline (plus spermine as the main polyamine) plus creatine over citrate [(Cho+(Spm+)Cr)/Cit] is derived from these metabolites and is used as a marker for the presence of prostate cancer. In this review, the factors that are of importance for the metabolite ratio are discussed. This is relevant, because the appearance of the metabolites in the spectrum depends not only on the underlying anatomy, metabolism, and physiology of the tissue, but also on acquisition parameters. These parameters influence especially the spectral shapes of citrate and spermine resonances, and consequently, the (Cho+(Spm+)Cr)/Cit ratio. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches can be used for the evaluation of 1H-MRSI spectra of the prostate. For the quantitative approach, the (Cho+(Spm+)Cr)/Cit ratio can be determined by integration or by a fit based on model signals. Using the latter, the influence of the acquisition parameters on citrate can be taken into account. The strong overlap between the choline, creatine, and spermine resonances complicates fitting of the individual metabolites. This overlap and (unknown, possibly tissue-related) variations in T1, T2, and J-modulation hamper the application of corrections needed for a “normalized” (Cho+(Spm+)Cr)/Cit ratio that would enable comparison of spectra measured with different prostate MR spectroscopy protocols. Quantitative (Cho+(Spm+)Cr)/Cit thresholds for the evaluation of prostate cancer are therefore commonly established per institution or per protocol. However, if the same acquisition and postprocessing protocol were used, the ratio and the thresholds would be institution-independent, promoting the clinical usability of prostate 1H-MRSI. Magn Reson Med 73:1–12, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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