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What is an apparent diffusion coefficient?

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The apparent diffusion coefficient is a measurement of how far water molecules spread in a tissue, notes Radiopaedia. Water moves in a random fashion as it spreads through biological tissue, and the ADC can be computed by radiologists to assist in diagnoses.

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As water moves throughout tissue areas, blockages show up on diffusion-weighted images; these are helpful to locate regions of interest, such as in the brain, a uniformly watery organ that resists other methods of investigation. ADC values can be computed from magnetic-resonance imaging results, then mapped as an overlay. The ADC of a tissue is measured in units of millimeters squared per second.

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