Microscopic Diffusion Properties of Fixed Breast Tissue: Preliminary Findings

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Abstract

Purpose:

To investigate the microscopic diffusion properties of formalin-fixed breast tissue.

Methods:

Diffusion microimaging was performed at 16.4T with 40-μm isotropic voxels on two normal and two cancer tissue samples from four patients. Results were correlated with histology of the samples.

Results:

Diffusion-weighted images and mean diffusivity maps demonstrated distinct diffusivity differences between breast tissue components. Mean diffusivity (MD) in normal tissue was 0.59 ± 0.24 μm2/ms for gland lobule (voxels containing epithelium and intralobular stroma) and 1.23 ± 0.34 μm2/ms for interlobular fibrous stroma. In the cancer samples, MD = 0.45 ± 0.23 μm2/ms for invasive ductal carcinoma (voxels contain epithelium and intralobular stroma) and 0.61 ± 0.35 μm2/ms for ductal carcinoma in situ. There were significant MD differences between all tissue components (P < 0.005), except between gland lobule and ductal carcinoma in situ (P = 0.71). The low diffusivity of epithelium-rich cancer tissue and of normal epithelium relative to its supporting fibrous stroma was similar to that reported for prostate tissue and the esophageal wall.

Conclusion:

Diffusion microimaging demonstrates distinct diffusivity differences between breast tissue glandular structures. Low diffusivity may be a distinctive feature of mammalian epithelia. Magn Reson Med 74:1733–1739, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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