Diffusion is directional: Innovative diffusion tensor imaging to improve prostate cancer detection

Chen Shenhar, Hadassa Degani, Yaara Ber, Jack Baniel, Shlomit Tamir, Ofer Benjaminov, Philip Rosen, Edna Furman-Haran, David Margel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the prostate, water diffusion is faster when moving parallel to duct and gland walls than when moving perpendicular to them, but these data are not currently utilized in multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) for prostate cancer (PCa) detection. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can quantify the directional diffusion of water in tissue and is applied in brain and breast imaging. Our aim was to determine whether DTI may improve PCa detection. We scanned patients undergoing mpMRI for suspected PCa with a DTI sequence. We calculated diffusion metrics from DTI and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) for suspected lesions and normal-appearing prostate tissue, using specialized software for DTI analysis, and compared predictive values for PCa in targeted biopsies, performed when clinically indicated. DTI scans were performed on 78 patients, 42 underwent biopsy and 16 were diagnosed with PCa. The median age was 62 (IQR 54.4–68.4), and PSA 4.8 (IQR 1.3–10.7) ng/mL. DTI metrics distinguished PCa lesions from normal tissue. The prime diffusion coefficient (λ1) was lower in both peripheral-zone (p < 0.0001) and central-gland (p < 0.0001) cancers, compared to normal tissue. DTI had higher negative and positive predictive values than mpMRI to predict PCa (positive predictive value (PPV) 77.8% (58.6–97.0%), negative predictive value (NPV) 91.7% (80.6–100%) vs. PPV 46.7% (28.8–64.5%), NPV 83.3% (62.3–100%)). We conclude from this pilot study that DTI combined with T2-weighted imaging may have the potential to improve PCa detection without requiring contrast injection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number563
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prostate cancer
  • Prostatic neoplasms


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