Inter- and Intra-Observer Repeatability of Quantitative Whole-Body, Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (WBDWI) in Metastatic Bone Disease.
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Quantitative whole-body diffusion-weighted MRI (WB-DWI) is now possible using semi-automatic segmentation techniques. The method enables whole-body estimates of global Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (gADC) and total Diffusion Volume (tDV), both of which have demonstrated considerable utility for assessing treatment response in patients with bone metastases from primary prostate and breast cancers. Here we investigate the agreement (inter-observer repeatability) between two radiologists in their definition of Volumes Of Interest (VOIs) and subsequent assessment of tDV and gADC on an exploratory patient cohort of nine. Furthermore, each radiologist was asked to repeat his or her measurements on the same patient data sets one month later to identify the intra-observer repeatability of the technique. Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimation method provided full posterior probabilities of repeatability measures along with maximum a-posteriori values and 95% confidence intervals. Our estimates of the inter-observer Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICCinter) for log-tDV and median gADC were 1.00 (0.97-1.00) and 0.99 (0.89-0.99) respectively, indicating excellent observer agreement for these metrics. Mean gADC values were found to have ICCinter = 0.97 (0.81-0.99) indicating a slight sensitivity to outliers in the derived distributions of gADC. Of the higher order gADC statistics, skewness was demonstrated to have good inter-user agreement with ICCinter = 0.99 (0.86-1.00), whereas gADC variance and kurtosis performed relatively poorly: 0.89 (0.39-0.97) and 0.96 (0.69-0.99) respectively. Estimates of intra-observer repeatability (ICCintra) demonstrated similar results: 0.99 (0.95-1.00) for log-tDV, 0.98 (0.89-0.99) and 0.97 (0.83-0.99) for median and mean gADC respectively, 0.64 (0.25-0.88) for gADC variance, 0.85 (0.57-0.95) for gADC skewness and 0.85 (0.57-0.95) for gADC kurtosis. Further investigation of two anomalous patient cases revealed that a very small proportion of voxels with outlying gADC values lead to instability in higher order gADC statistics. We therefore conclude that estimates of median/mean gADC and tumour volume demonstrate excellent inter- and intra-observer repeatability whilst higher order statistics of gADC should be used with caution when ascribing significance to clinical changes.
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PloS one, 2016, 11 (4), pp. e0153840 - ?