Radiology. 2014 September 19. [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Coolen J, De Keyzer F, Nafteux P, De Wever W, Dooms C, Vansteenkiste J, Derweduwen A, Roebben I, Verbeken E, De Leyn P, Van Raemdonck D, Nackaers K, Dymarkowski S, Verschakelen J.



To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the visual assessment of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) on magnetic resonance (MR) images by using two known visual markers (mediastinal pleural thickness and shrinking of the lung) and a newly introduced one (pleural pointillism).

Materials and Methods

With the approval of the local ethics committee, 100 consecutive patients (mean age, 61.4 years; age range, 18-87 years; 75 men, 25 women) suspected of having MPM pleural abnormalities underwent positron emission tomography/computed tomography and MR imaging, including diffusion-weighted (DW) MR imaging, followed by explorative thoracoscopy or guided biopsy with histopathologic confirmation. Because visual assessment is still the preferred method of image interpretation, the diagnostic accuracy of mediastinal pleural thickening, shrinking lung (hemithorax volume decrease due to fibrosis), and pleural pointillism were examined. Pleural pointillism was denoted by the presence of multiple, hyperintense pleural spots on high-b-value DW images. Histopathologic findings in the surgical specimen served as the reference standard. McNemar tests with Bonferroni correction were used to assess differences in accuracy among the three examined markers.


Of 100 patients, 33 had benign pleural alterations, and 67 had malignant pleural diseases (MPDs); 57 of 67 had MPM. A total of 78 patients received a correct diagnosis (benign vs malignant) on the basis of mediastinal pleural thickening (sensitivity, 81%; specificity, 73%; accuracy, 78%); and 66 patients, on the basis of shrinking lung (sensitivity, 60%; specificity, 79%; accuracy, 66%). The correct diagnosis was indicated on the basis of pleural pointillism in 88 patients (sensitivity, 93%; specificity, 79%; accuracy, 88%).


Visual assessment of pleural pointillism on high-b-value DW images is useful to differentiate MPD from benign alterations, performing substantially better than mediastinal pleural thickness and shrinking lung, and might obviate unnecessary invasive procedures for MPM.