Transudative vs exudative pleural effusions: differentiation using Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI
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The aim of this study was to investigate the capability of Gd-DTPA-enhanced MRI to differentiate between exudative and transudative pleural effusions. An MRI examination was performed on 22 patients with different types of pleural effusion (10 transudative and 12 exudative effusions). T1-weighted SE images were obtained before and 20 min after administration of Gd-DTPA (0.1 mmol/kg). The degree of enhancement of pleural effusions was evaluated both by visual assessement and by quantitative analysis of images. None of 10 transudative effusions showed significative enhancement, whereas 10 of 12 exudative effusions showed enhancement (sensitivity 83 %, specificity 100 %, positive predictive value 100 %). The postcontrast signal intensity ratios (SIRs) of exudates were significantly higher than corresponding precontrast ratios (P = 0.0109) and the postcontrast SIRs of exudates were significantly higher than those of transudates (P = 0.0300). Exudative pleural effusions show a significant enhancement following administration of Gd-DTPA. We presume that this may be caused by increased pleural permeability and more rapid passage of a large amount of Gd-DTPA from the blood into the pleural fluid in case of exudative effusions. In our limited group of patients, signal enhancement proved the presence of an exudative effusion. Absence of signal enhancement suggests a transudate, but does not exclude an exudate.
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