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Eur Radiol. 2000;10(5):832-40.

Osteochondroma: MR imaging of tumor-related complications.

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Department of Clinical Radiology, Westfalian Wilhelms University of Muenster, Germany.


Osteochondromas can be complicated by mechanical irritation, compression or injury of adjacent structures, fracture, malignant transformation, and postoperative recurrence. Magnetic resonance imaging represents the most valuable imaging modality in symptomatic cases, because it can demonstrate typical features of associated soft tissue pathology, which can be differentiated from malignant transformation. Reactive bursae formation presents as an overlying fluid collection with peripheral contrast enhancement. Dislocation, deformation, and signal alterations of adjacent soft tissue structures can be observed in different impingement syndromes caused by osteochondromas. Magnetic resonance imaging provides excellent demonstration of arterial and venous compromise and represents the method of choice in cases with compression of spinal cord, nerve roots, or peripheral nerves, depicting changes in size, position, and signal intensity of the affected neural structures. Malignant transformation as the most worrisome complication occurs in approximately 1% of solitary and 5-25% of multiple osteochondromas. Magnetic resonance imaging is the most accurate method in measuring cartilage cap thickness, which represents an important criterion for differentiation of osteochondromas and exostotic (low-grade) chondrosarcomas. Cartilage cap thickness exceeding 2 cm in adults and 3 cm in children should raise the suspicion for malignant transformation. Finally, MR imaging can detect postoperative recurrence by depiction of a recurrent mass presenting typical morphological features of a cartilage-forming lesion.

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