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Benign vs malignant soft tissue neoplasms: Limitations of magnetic resonance imaging

Author(s): Sen J | Agarwal S | Singh S | Sen R | Goel S

Journal: Indian Journal of Cancer
ISSN 0019-509X

Volume: 47;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 280;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Benign | malignant | magnetic resonance imaging | neoplasms | soft tissue

Aims: Various features have been described in the literature to differentiate benign from malignant lesions. The aim of the present study was to study the accuracy of each of these features and that of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing malignant lesions. Materials and Methods: Fifty-five consecutive patients presenting with neoplastic (both benign and malignant) lesions diagnosed clinically and on ultrasound were studied and their MRI features were compared with the findings on surgical exploration and histopathologic examination. Results: There were 32 (58%) benign and 23 (42%) malignant masses. Malignant masses were more common in patients older than 20 years (83%), and these had symptoms of less than 6 months duration (75%), as against benign lesions. The swelling was painful in 8 malignant masses and these were more common in the upper limbs (61%). Various features of malignant lesions were size more than 5 cm in 83%, change in signal intensity from homogenous on T1-weighted images to heterogenous on T2-weighted images in 74%, irregular margins in 74%, and heterogenous contrast enhancement in 91%. The accuracy of these features was 76%, 58%, 78%, and 60%, respectively. Most benign and malignant lesions were intramuscular in location. A significant number (38%) of benign lesions were located in the intermuscular facial plane. Definitive diagnosis was made in 42% of the lesions. Conclusions: MRI is an excellent modality for evaluating soft tissue neoplasms; however, prediction of a specific diagnosis and differentiation of malignant and benign lesions is not always possible.
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