Purpose: to assess if tumor segmentation analysis performed at different post-contrast time points (TPs) on dynamic images could influence the extraction of dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE)-MRI parameters in locally advanced breast cancer (LABC), and potentially represent a source of variability. Method: forty patients with forty-two LABC lesions were prospectively enrolled and underwent breast DCE-MRI examination at 3 T. On post-processed dynamic images, enhancing tumor lesions were manually segmented at four different TPs: at the first post-contrast dynamic image in which the lesion was appreciable (TP 1) and at 1, 5 and 10 min after contrast-agent administration (TPs 2, 3 and 4, respectively) and corresponding DCE-MRI parameters were extracted. Friedman's test followed by Bonferroni-adjusted Wilcoxon signed rank test for post-hoc analysis was used to compare DCE-MRI parameters. Intra- and inter-observer reliability of DCE-MRI parameters measurements was assessed using the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) analysis. Results: Ktrans, Kep and iAUC were significantly higher when extracted from ROIs placed at TP1 and progressively decreased from TP 2–4. The intra-observer reliability ranged from good to excellent (ICC's: 0.894 to 0.990). The inter-observer reliability varied from moderate to excellent (0.770 to 0.942). The inter-observer reliability was significantly higher for Ktrans and Kep extracted at TPs1 and 2 as compared to TPs 3 and 4. Conclusions: A significant variability of DCE-MRI quantitative parameters occurs when tumor segmentation is performed at different TPs. We suggest to performing tumor delineation at an established TP, preferably the earliest, in order to extract reliable and comparable DCE-MRI data.
- Dynamic contrast enhanced MRI
- Locally advanced breast cancer
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Perfusion weighted MRI
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging