Bladder cancer: do we need contrast injection for MRI assessment of muscle invasion? A prospective multi-reader VI-RADS approach.

(1) To investigate whether a contrast-free biparametric MRI (bp-MRI) including T2-weighted images (T2W) and diffusion-weighted images (DWI) can be considered an accurate alternative to the standard multiparametric MRI (mp-MRI), consisting of T2, DWI, and dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) imaging for the muscle-invasiveness assessment of bladder cancer (BC), and (2) to evaluate how the diagnostic performance of differently experienced readers is affected according to the type of MRI protocol.

Thirty-eight patients who underwent a clinically indicated bladder mp-MRI on a 3-T scanner were prospectively enrolled. Trans-urethral resection of bladder was the gold standard. Two sets of images, set 1 (bp-MRI) and set 2 (mp-MRI), were independently reviewed by four readers. Descriptive statistics, including sensitivity and specificity, were calculated for each reader. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed, and the areas under the curve (AUCs) were calculated for the bp-MRI and the standard mp-MRI. Pairwise comparison of the ROC curves was performed.

The AUCs for bp- and mp-MRI were respectively 0.91-0.92 (reader 1), 0.90 (reader 2), 0.95-0.90 (reader 3), and 0.90-0.87 (reader 4). Sensitivity was 100% for both protocols and specificity ranged between 79.31 and 89.66% and between 79.31 and 83.33% for bp-MRI and mp-MRI, respectively. No significant differences were shown between the two MRI protocols (p > 0.05). No significant differences were shown accordingly to the reader's experience (p > 0.05).

A bp-MRI protocol consisting of T2W and DWI has comparable diagnostic accuracy to the standard mp-MRI protocol for the detection of muscle-invasive bladder cancer. The experience of the reader does not significantly affect the diagnostic performance using VI-RADS.

• The contrast-free MRI protocol shows a comparable accuracy to the standard multiparametric MRI protocol in the bladder cancer muscle-invasiveness assessment. • VI-RADS classification helps non-expert radiologists to assess the muscle-invasiveness of bladder cancer. • DCE should be carefully interpreted by less experienced readers due to inflammatory changes representing a potential pitfall.

European radiology. 2020 Nov 19 [Epub ahead of print]

Andrea Delli Pizzi, Domenico Mastrodicasa, Michele Marchioni, Giulia Primiceri, Francesca Di Fabio, Roberta Cianci, Barbara Seccia, Barbara Sessa, Erica Mincuzzi, Martina Romanelli, Pietro Castellan, Roberto Castellucci, Antonella Colasante, Luigi Schips, Raffaella Basilico, Massimo Caulo

Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, "G. d'Annunzio" University, Via Luigi Polacchi 11, 66100, Chieti, Italy. ., Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA., Department of Medical, Oral and Biotechnological Sciences, Urology Unit, SS Annunziata Hospital, G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti, Chieti, Italy., Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences, "G. d'Annunzio" University, Via Luigi Polacchi 11, 66100, Chieti, Italy., Surgical Pathology Unit, SS Annunziata Hospital, Chieti, Italy.