Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Breast Cancer Research: BCR


Thayer School of Engineering

Additional Department

Geisel School of Medicine



While dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE MRI) is recognized as the most sensitive examination for breast cancer detection, it has a substantial false positive rate and gadolinium (Gd) contrast agents are not universally well tolerated. As a result, alternatives to diagnosing breast cancer based on endogenous contrast are of growing interest. In this study, endogenous near-infrared spectral tomography (NIRST) guided by T2 MRI was evaluated to explore whether the combined imaging modality, which does not require contrast injection or involve ionizing radiation, can achieve acceptable diagnostic performance.


Twenty-four subjects-16 with pathologically confirmed malignancy and 8 with benign abnormalities-were simultaneously imaged with MRI and NIRST prior to definitive pathological diagnosis. MRIs were evaluated independently by three breast radiologists blinded to the pathological results. Optical image reconstructions were constrained by grayscale values in the T2 MRI. MRI and NIRST images were used, alone and in combination, to estimate the diagnostic performance of the data. Outcomes were compared to DCE results.


Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and area under the curve (AUC) of noncontrast MRI when combined with T2-guided NIRST were 94%, 100%, 96%, and 0.95, respectively, whereas these values were 94%, 63%, 88%, and 0.81 for DCE MRI alone, and 88%, 88%, 88%, and 0.94 when DCE-guided NIRST was added.


In this study, the overall accuracy of imaging diagnosis improved to 96% when T2-guided NIRST was added to noncontrast MRI alone, relative to 88% for DCE MRI, suggesting that similar or better diagnostic accuracy can be achieved without requiring a contrast agent.




This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license

Original Citation

Feng, J., Xu, J., Jiang, S. et al. Addition of T2-guided optical tomography improves noncontrast breast magnetic resonance imaging diagnosis. Breast Cancer Res 19, 117 (2017).