Microscopic Diffusion Properties of Fixed Breast Tissue: Preliminary Findings

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


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.


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.


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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