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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2013 Jan;200(1):205-9. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.7476.

Can CT features differentiate between inferior vena cava leiomyosarcomas and primary retroperitoneal masses?

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Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave, Box 0628, M-372, San Francisco, CA 94143-0628, USA.



The objective of our study was to evaluate and describe CT features that may differentiate inferior vena cava (IVC) leiomyosarcomas from primary retroperitoneal masses.


A records search revealed 18 CT examinations with a soft-tissue mass contacting the IVC. Three readers evaluated the scans for four signs: an imperceptible IVC at the interface with the mass; a "positive embedded organ" sign (IVC embedded in the periphery of the mass); a "negative embedded organ" sign (IVC compressed at the perimeter of the mass); and tumor in the IVC lumen. CT findings were compared with pathology and operative reports. Performance and significance of CT features and interobserver agreement were calculated.


Four of 18 (22%) retroperitoneal masses were IVC leiomyosarcomas. The IVC was imperceptible at the interface with the mass in three of the four (75%) IVC leiomyosarcomas (κ = 0.88) and in no alternate diagnosis (p < 0.02). No IVC leiomyosarcoma showed a positive embedded organ sign versus one of 14 masses of alternate origin (p = 1.0, κ = 0.56). The negative embedded organ sign was seen in most primary retroperitoneal masses (11/14 or 79%, κ = 0.85) but in no case of IVC leiomyosarcoma (p = 0.01). Intraluminal tumor was seen in one of four (25%) IVC leiomyosarcomas and in two of 14 other retroperitoneal masses (p = 1.0, κ = 1.0).


An imperceptible IVC at the point of maximal contact with a retroperitoneal mass was the most useful CT feature for predicting the origin of IVC leiomyosarcoma. A negative embedded organ sign was useful for excluding IVC origin. Knowledge of these CT features may assist with preoperative planning.

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