European Radiology

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 845–854 | Cite as

Reliability and diagnostic accuracy of qualitative evaluation of diffusion-weighted MRI combined with conventional MRI in differentiating between complete and partial anterior cruciate ligament tears

  • Cyrille Delin
  • Stéphane Silvera
  • Joël Coste
  • Philippe Thelen
  • Nicolas Lefevre
  • François-Paul Ehkirch
  • Vincent Le Couls
  • Ammar Oudjit
  • Catherine Radier
  • Paul Legmann



To assess the reliability and diagnostic accuracy of qualitative evaluation of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) mapping with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in differentiating between complete and partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.


This prospective study protocol was approved by the institutional ethics review board and informed consent was obtained from all the patients. Eighty-five patients (35 women and 50 men, mean age 34.1 years) with recent (<4 months) knee trauma with suspected ACL injury underwent conventional MRI (T1-weighted and T2-weighted sequences with fat saturation) associated with ADC mapping. MR images were read qualitatively without and then with ADC mapping by three radiologists, with analysis of direct signs of a traumatic ACL tear and a second-reading. Dynamic X-rays (43 patients) or arthroscopies (42 patients) were used as reference standards.


For complete ACL tear diagnosis (67 patients), sensitivity and specificity were 87% and 50% respectively with conventional MRI, and 96% and 94% respectively with ADC mapping (P < 0.01 for specificity). Inter-observer correlations between musculoskeletal radiologists were almost perfect (κ = 0.81) with ADC mapping and fair with conventional MRI on the second-reading.


ADC mapping associated with conventional MR sequences is a reproducible method to better differentiate complete and partial ACL tears.

Key Points

MRI is widely used for assessing the problematic knee

Additional diffusion-weighted sequences help differentiate between complete and partial ACL tears

DW-MRI for ACL requires a reader-dependent learning curve

Reliable visualisation of complete ACL tears allows more appropriate management of patients


Anterior cruciate ligament MRI Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging Traumatism Complete tear 



Anterior cruciate ligament


Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging


Apparent diffusion coefficient



We thank all the patients who agreed to take part in this study. We also thank Irène Boulloche for her editorial assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyrille Delin
    • 1
  • Stéphane Silvera
    • 2
  • Joël Coste
    • 3
  • Philippe Thelen
    • 1
  • Nicolas Lefevre
    • 4
  • François-Paul Ehkirch
    • 5
  • Vincent Le Couls
    • 6
  • Ammar Oudjit
    • 2
  • Catherine Radier
    • 1
  • Paul Legmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Réseau d’Imagerie Médicale Maussins-NolletParisFrance
  2. 2.Service de Radiologie AHôpital CochinParisFrance
  3. 3.Unité de biostatistique et épidémiologieHôpital CochinParisFrance
  4. 4.Centre de consultation NolletParisFrance
  5. 5.Clinique Maussins-NolletParisFrance
  6. 6.Siemens Medical SolutionsSaint DenisFrance

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