European Radiology

, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1699-1708

First online:

Diffusion-weighted imaging of bone marrow: current status

  • Andrea BaurAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Radiology, University of Munich Email author 
  • , Olaf DietrichAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Radiology, University of Munich
  • , Maximilian ReiserAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Radiology, University of Munich

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Diffusion-weighted imaging allows for measurement of tissue microstructure and reflects the random motion of water protons. It provides a new method to study bone marrow and bone marrow alterations on the basis of altered water-proton mobility in various diseases. Different diffusion-weighted methods have proved to be capable of differentiating between benign edema and tumorous involvement of bone marrow. It is especially useful for the distinction of acute benign osteoporotic and malignant vertebral compression fractures. Diagnosis is based on the contrast to normal bone marrow. Hypo- or isointensity reflects acute benign collapse, whereas hyperintensity is indicative of the tumorous nature of a fracture. Apparent diffusion coefficients (ADC) are significantly lower in metastatic disease than in bone marrow edema. Furthermore, bone marrow cellularity can be estimated by ADC measurements. Diffusion-weighted imaging might be helpful for monitoring response to therapy in metastatic disease.


MRI Diffusion-weighted imaging Bone marrow Neoplasms