Reliability of MRI-Derived Depth of Invasion of Oral Tongue Cancer

Published:September 26, 2018DOI:

      Rationale and Objective

      To evaluate the inter-rater reliability of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-derived depth of invasion (DOI) and the agreement between MRI and pathological measurements of oral tongue cancer.

      Materials and Methods

      The institutional review board approved this retrospective study. The study population consisted of 29 patients with clinical T2N0 oral tongue cancer treated by surgery. Routine pretreatment MRI was performed on a 3T superconducting imager. Two raters with 23 and 18 years of head-and-neck MRI experience, respectively, independently chosen MRI sequences for each patient, then delineate the tumor, and then used three protocols to measure the MRI-derived DOI: the axial reconstructed thickness (method 1), the axial invasive portion (method 2), and the coronal invasive portion (method 3). Then they consensually selected the optimal among the three methods for each patient; it was designated method 4. The Bland-Altman plots, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), and the paired samples test were used. According to the median follow-up of 41 months, the relationship between the MRI-derived DOI and nodal recurrence was also investigated.


      The inter-rater reliability of methods 2 and 4 was excellent (ICC of 0.829 and 0.807, respectively). The correlation between MRI and pathological measurements was good for method 4 (ICC of 0.611), however, all measurements recorded on MRI were 2–3 mm larger than on pathology. No patients whose MRI-derived DOI was less than 5 mm suffered nodal recurrence.


      The MRI-derived DOI was valuable for the preoperative staging. The optimal measurement method should be selected on a case-by-case basis.

      Key Words


      AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer), DOI (depth of invasion), ICC (intraclass correlation coefficient), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), UICC (Union for International Cancer Control)
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