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Published December 9, 2021 | Published
Journal Article Open

Vascularity and Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


Angiogenesis is a key step in the initiation and progression of an invasive breast cancer. High microvessel density by morphological characterization predicts metastasis and poor survival in women with invasive breast cancers. However, morphologic characterization is subject to variability and only can evaluate a limited portion of an invasive breast cancer. Consequently, breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is currently being evaluated to assess vascularity. Recently, through the new field of radiomics, dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE)-MRI is being used to evaluate vascular density, vascular morphology, and detection of aggressive breast cancer biology. While DCE-MRI is a highly sensitive tool, there are specific features that limit computational evaluation of blood vessels. These include (1) DCE-MRI evaluates gadolinium contrast and does not directly evaluate biology, (2) the resolution of DCE-MRI is insufficient for imaging small blood vessels, and (3) DCE-MRI images are very difficult to co-register. Here we review computational approaches for detection and analysis of blood vessels in DCE-MRI images and present some of the strategies we have developed for co-registry of DCE-MRI images and early detection of vascularization.

Copyright and License

© 2021 Frankhouser, Dietze, Mahabal and Seewaldt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


Funding sources include National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI) grants R01CA170851, P20CA24619, R01CA192914, and U01CA189283 (all to VS) and P30CA033572 and Welcome Leap. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


DF wrote much of the manuscript. ED edited the manuscript. AM contributed ideas and edited the manuscript. VS contributed ideas and edited and revised the manuscript. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Additional details

November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023