If a tumor is found in a kidney, a biopsy is needed to determine whether the tumor is malignant or benign. Biopsies are a painful procedure in which sample tissues are extracted from the patient, which in turn keeps some patients away from the procedure altogether. “Biopsies are not entirely free of pain and discomfort. Some patients, in fact, choose to observe the cancer simply to avoid the pain of the biopsy,” explains Jeffrey Cadeddu, co-author of a new study that uses current MRI technology to find out the danger of tumors without necessary biopsies at all.
The new study, which was conducted by researchers at UT Southwestern and published in The Journal of Urology, developed the breakthrough new MRI method, called multiparametric MRI (mpMRI). The technique uses a standardized diagnostic algorithm to evaluate several specific MRI images of a targeted renal mass. Several different factors go into play with the method, which accounts for different MRI images and the presence of fat in the tumor and signal intensity on T2-weighted imaging.
Another co-author on the study, Ivan Pedrosa, said that “Using mpMRI, multiple types of images can be obtained from the renal mass and each one tells us something about the tissue.”
The new method, which isn’t meant to be a replacement for biopsies, hopes to instead reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies by serving as a investigational step beforehand. It also intends to confirm the need of a biopsy for patients who would have opted out of one otherwise.
The research suggests that physicians, aided by the information from mpMRI, can identify the most common malignant form of kidney tumor with an 80% confidence.
More work will be done to ensure the effectiveness of mpMRI before it is supplied to the masses, but the research was hopeful and could soon become a valuable tool in tumor diagnosis.