Radiologic evaluation of musculoskeletal soft-tissue masses has changed dramatically with the continued improvements in imaging technology. The integration of advanced imaging has provided the radiologist with a wide range of assessment tools, but as with all powerful arsenals, selection and application of the appropriate imaging method can be problematic. Although the choices available for imaging evaluation of musculoskeletal masses have changed dramatically, the basic objectives of this assessment have remained constant: diagnosis and staging. The basic principles for evaluating musculoskeletal soft-tissue masses and achieving these objectives have not changed. This article addresses application of the current imaging methods to assessment of soft-tissue musculoskeletal masses, emphasizing fundamental concepts. We do not intend to provide a comprehensive review of imaging techniques, but rather to provide a useful review of the concepts needed to select the appropriate initial imaging method, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging field of view, MR imaging sequences, contrast material requirements, and rapid image acquisition techniques. We also address use of the new quantitative techniques of chemical shift and diffusion-weighted imaging. Finally, we review the current uses of computed tomography and ultrasonography. Although the choices available for imaging evaluation of musculoskeletal masses have changed dramatically within the past decade, appropriate application of the fundamental concepts of imaging will maximize the diagnostic utility of imaging examinations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging