Diffusion-tensor Mr imaging of the breast: Hormonal regulation

Noam Nissan*, Edna Furman-Haran, Myra Shapiro-Feinberg, Dov Grobgeld, Hadassa Degani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the parameters obtained with magnetic resonance (MR) diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) of the breast throughout the menstrual cycle phases, during lactation, and after menopause, with and without hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Materials and Methods: All protocols were approved by the internal review board, and signed informed consent was obtained from all participants. Forty-five healthy volunteers underwent imaging by using T2-weighted and DTI MR sequences at 3 T. Premenopausal volunteers (n = 16) underwent imaging weekly, four times during one menstrual cycle. Postmenopausal volunteers (n = 19) and lactating volunteers (n = 10) underwent imaging once. The principal diffusion coefficients (l1, l2, and l3), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), fractional anisotropy (FA), and maximal anisotropy (l1- l3) were calculated pixel by pixel for the fibroglandular tissue in the entire breast. Results: In all premenopausal volunteers, the DTI parameters exhibited high repeatability, remaining almost equal along the menstrual cycle, with a low mean within-subject coefficient of variance of l1, l2, l3, and ADC (1%-2% for all) and FA (5%), as well as a high intraclass correlation of 0.92-0.98. The diffusion coefficients were significantly lower (a) in the group without HRT use as compared with the group with HRT use (P <.01) and premenopausal volunteers (P <.01) and (b) in the lactating volunteers as compared with the premenopausal volunteers (P <.005). No significant differences in DTI parameters were found between premenopausal volunteers free of oral contraceptives and those who used oral contraceptives (P =.28-0.82) and between premenopausal volunteers and postmenopausal volunteers who used HRT (P =.31-0.93). Conclusion: DTI parameters are not sensitive to menstrual cycle changes, while menopause, long-term HRT, and presence of milk in lactating women affected the DTI parameters. Therefore, the timing for performing breast DTI is not restricted throughout the menstrual cycle, whereas the modulations in diffusion parameters due to HRT and lactation should be taken into account in DTI evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-680
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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