The measurements of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) with diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) is becoming a popular diagnostic and research tool for examination of parotid glands. However, there is little agreement between the reported ADC values of the parotid gland in published literature. In this review 43 studies on ADC measurement of the parotid glands were included. The analyses indicated several possible culprits of the observed ADC discrepancies. For example, DW-MRI examinations under gustatory stimulation gives higher ADC values compared to the unstimulated parotid gland (P=0.003). The diffusion weighting factors (b-values) can either increase (b-value <200 s/mm2) or decrease ADC values (b-values >1,000 s/mm2). The timing of follow-up DW-MRI after radiotherapy (RT) indicates correlation to the found ADC values (R2 =0.39). Interestingly, the choice of regions of interest (ROI) appears not to affect the measurements of ADC (P=0.75). It can be concluded that there is a critical need for standardization of ADC measurement of the parotid glands to allow valid inter-study comparisons and eventually to reach consensus on the use of ADC as biomarker.
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