European Radiology

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 1027-1033

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Quantitative analysis of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging in malignant breast lesions using different b value combinations

  • Line B. NilsenAffiliated withDepartment of Radiation Biology, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University HospitalFaculty of Medicine, University of Oslo Email author 
  • , Anne FangbergetAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Division of Diagnostics and Intervention, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital
  • , Oliver GeierAffiliated withDepartment of Diagnostic Physics, The Interventional Centre, Division of Diagnostics and Intervention, Oslo University Hospital
  • , Therese SeierstadAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Division of Diagnostics and Intervention, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University HospitalDepartment of Health Sciences, Buskerud University College



To explore how apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) in malignant breast lesions are affected by selection of b values in the monoexponential model and to compare ADCs with diffusion coefficients (Ds) obtained from the biexponential model.


Twenty-four women (mean age 51.3 years) with locally advanced breast cancer were included in this study. Pre-treatment diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging was performed using a 1.5-T system with b values of 0, 50, 100, 250 and 800 s/mm2. Thirteen different b value combinations were used to derive individual monoexponential ADC maps. All b values were used in the biexponential model.


Median ADC (including all b values) and D were 1.04 × 10-3 mm2/s (range 0.82–1.61 × 10-3 mm2/s) and 0.84 × 10-3 mm2/s (range 0.17–1.56 × 10-3 mm2/s), respectively. There was a strong positive correlation between ADCs and Ds. For clinically relevant b value combinations, maximum deviation between ADCs including and excluding low b values (<100 s/mm2) was 11.8 %.


Selection of b values strongly affects ADCs of malignant breast lesions. However, by excluding low b values, ADCs approach biexponential Ds, demonstrating that microperfusion influences the diffusion signal. Thus, care should be taken when ADC calculation includes low b values.

Key Points

Diffusion-weighted sequences are increasingly used in breast magnetic resonance imaging

Diffusion-weighting (b) values strongly influence apparent diffusion coefficients of malignant lesions

Exclusion of low b values reduces the apparent diffusion coefficient

Flow-insensitive monoexponential apparent diffusion coefficients approach biexponential diffusion coefficients


Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) Monoexponential model Biexponential model Breast Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging