Diffusion weighted imaging in patients with rectal cancer: Comparison between Gaussian and non-Gaussian models

Georgios C. Manikis, Kostas Marias, Doenja M. J. Lambregts, Katerina Nikiforaki, Miriam M. van Heeswijk, Frans C. H. Bakers, Regina G. H. Beets-Tan, Nikolaos Papanikolaou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of four diffusion models, including mono and bi-exponential both Gaussian and non-Gaussian models, in diffusion weighted imaging of rectal cancer.

Material and methods

Nineteen patients with rectal adenocarcinoma underwent MRI examination of the rectum before chemoradiation therapy including a 7 b-value diffusion sequence (0, 25, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 2000 s/mm(2)) at a 1.5T scanner. Four different diffusion models including mono-and bi-exponential Gaussian (MG and BG) and non-Gaussian (MNG and BNG) were applied on whole tumor volumes of interest. Two different statistical criteria were recruited to assess their fitting performance, including the adjusted-R-2 and Root Mean Square Error (RMSE). To decide which model better characterizes rectal cancer, model selection was relied on Akaike Information Criteria (AIC) and F-ratio.


All candidate models achieved a good fitting performance with the two most complex models, the BG and the BNG, exhibiting the best fitting performance. However, both criteria for model selection indicated that the MG model performed better than any other model. In particular, using AIC Weights and F-ratio, the pixel-based analysis demonstrated that tumor areas better described by the simplest MG model in an average area of 53% and 33%, respectively. Non-Gaussian behavior was illustrated in an average area of 37% according to the F-ratio, and 7% using AIC Weights. However, the distributions of the pixels best fitted by each of the four models suggest that MG failed to perform better than any other model in all patients, and the overall tumor area.


No single diffusion model evaluated herein could accurately describe rectal tumours. These findings probably can be explained on the basis of increased tumour heterogeneity, where areas with high vascularity could be fitted better with bi-exponential models, and areas with necrosis would mostly follow mono-exponential behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0184197
Number of pages15
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • MRI


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