Repeatability of Quantitative Diffusion-Weighted Imaging Metrics in Phantoms, Head-and-Neck and Thyroid Cancers: Preliminary Findings
The aim of this study was to establish the repeatability measures of quantitative Gaussian and non-Gaussian diffusion metrics using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) data from phantoms and patients with head-and-neck and papillary thyroid cancers. The Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance (QIBA) DWI phantom and a novel isotropic diffusion kurtosis imaging phantom were scanned at 3 different sites, on 1.5T and 3T magnetic resonance imaging systems, using standardized multiple b-value DWI acquisition protocol. In the clinical component of this study, a total of 60 multiple b-value DWI data sets were analyzed for test-retest, obtained from 14 patients (9 head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma and 5 papillary thyroid cancers). Repeatability of quantitative DWI measurements was assessed by within-subject coefficient of variation (wCV%) and Bland-Altman analysis. In isotropic diffusion kurtosis imaging phantom vial with 2% ceteryl alcohol and behentrimonium chloride solution, the mean apparent diffusion (Dapp × 10-3 mm2/s) and kurtosis (Kapp, unitless) coefficient values were 1.02 and 1.68 respectively, capturing in vivo tumor cellularity and tissue microstructure. For the same vial, Dapp and Kapp mean wCVs (%) were ≤1.41% and ≤0.43% for 1.5T and 3T across 3 sites. For pretreatment head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma, apparent diffusion coefficient, D, D*, K, and f mean wCVs (%) were 2.38%, 3.55%, 3.88%, 8.0%, and 9.92%, respectively; wCVs exhibited a higher trend for papillary thyroid cancers. Knowledge of technical precision and bias of quantitative imaging metrics enables investigators to properly design and power clinical trials and better discern between measurement variability versus biological change.