Inflammation and infiltration: can the radiologist draw a line? MRI versus CT to accurately assess medullary involvement in parosteal osteosarcoma

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Cancer causes inflammation as it progresses through healthy tissue. The differentiation of tumoral growth from the surrounding inflammatory change is paramount in planning surgeries seeking to preserve function. This retrospective study aims at illustrating how a careful use of imaging (computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) can help to draw the line between infiltration and inflammation. Out of 72 cases of parosteal osteosarcoma in our institution we selected 22 which had pretreatment imaging, and out of those, 14 that had both MRI and CT. Using Fisher's exact test, we evaluated the performance of each technique on accurately diagnosing medullary tumor infiltration, using histological analysis as a gold standard. All cases (14/14) demonstrated medullary abnormality on MRI, but only 6/14 (42.9%) demonstrated abnormality on CT. The 8/14 cases with MRI abnormality but no CT abnormality (57.1%) showed inflammation with no tumoral cells present on histological analysis. In the cases where the two examinations showed medullary abnormality (6/14) histology demonstrated tumoral infiltration. MRI demonstrated high sensitivity and negative predictive value, but low specificity and low positive predictive value and accuracy (P=1). CT demonstrated high sensitivity, specificity, high positive and negative predictive values and accuracy (P = 0.000333). MRI is highly sensitive for the detection of medullary abnormality but lacks specificity for tumor invasion. Correlation with CT is recommended in all cases of positive MR to add specificity for tumors. The adequate use of the two imaging methods allows to differentiate between inflammatory change and tumoral infiltration in POS, relevant for surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalThe International journal of biological markers
Issue number1_suppl
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Osteosarcoma
  • bone neoplasms
  • inflammation
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • neoplasm staging
  • tomography x-ray computed


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