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Insights Imaging. 2014 Aug;5(4):419-40. doi: 10.1007/s13244-014-0339-z. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

The role of magnetic resonance imaging in the evaluation of bone tumours and tumour-like lesions.

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1
Serviço de Imagiologia do Serviço de Saúde da Região Autónoma da Madeira, Avenida Luís de Camões, nº 57, 9004-514, Funchal, Portugal, duarterufino@gmail.com.

Abstract

Bone tumours and tumour-like lesions are frequently encountered by radiologists. Although radiographs are the primary screening technique, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help narrow the differential or make a specific diagnosis when a lesion is indeterminate or shows signs of aggressiveness. MRI can extend the diagnostic evaluation by demonstrating several tissue components. Even when a specific diagnosis cannot be made, the differential diagnosis can be narrowed. MRI is superior to the other imaging modalities in detecting bone marrow lesions and tumoral tissue (faint lytic/sclerotic bone lesions can be difficult to visualise using only radiographs). Contrast-enhanced MRI can reveal the most vascularised parts of the tumour and MRI guidance makes it possible to avoid biopsing necrotic areas. MRI is very helpful in local staging and surgical planning by assessing the degree of intramedullary extension and invasion of the adjacent physeal plates, joints, muscle compartments and neurovascular bundles. It can be used in assessing response to neoadjuvant therapy and further restaging. The post-therapeutic follow-up should also be done using MRI. Despite the high quality of MRI, there are a few pitfalls and limitations of which one should be aware. Applications of MRI in bone tumours will probably continue to grow as new sequences are further studied.

TEACHING POINTS:

• When a lesion is indeterminate or shows signs of aggressiveness, MRI is indicated. • When MRI does not lead to a diagnosis, biopsy is indicated. • MRI is superior to the other imaging modalities in detecting bone marrow lesions. • MRI is very helpful in local staging and surgical planning. • MRI is used in assessing the response to neoadjuvant therapy, restaging and post-therapeutic follow-up.

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