, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 687-694
Date: 07 Oct 2003

Clear cell chondrosarcoma: radiographic, computed tomographic, and magnetic resonance findings in 34 patients with pathologic correlation

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the radiographic features of clear cell chondrosarcoma (CCCS), including the computed tomographic (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) findings, and to correlate them with the histopathologic findings.

Design and patients

A retrospective review was carried out of 72 patients with histopathologically confirmed CCCS. Imaging studies were available for 34 patients: conventional radiographs (n=28), CT scans (n=14), and MR images (n=15). Radiographic studies were reviewed by three radiologists who rendered a consensus opinion; the studies were correlated with the histopathologic findings.

Results

Of the 34 patients with imaging studies, 30 were male and 4 were female (mean age 38.6 years; range 11–74 years). Twenty-two lesions were in long bones (15, proximal femur; 1, distal femur; 1, proximal tibia; 5, proximal humerus) and 11 were in flat bones (5, vertebra; 4, rib; 1, scapula; 1, innominate). One lesion occurred in the tarsal navicular bone. Typically, long bone lesions were located in the epimetaphysis (19/22) and were lucent with a well-defined sclerotic margin and no cortical destruction or periosteal new bone formation. More than one-third of the long bone lesions contained matrix mineralization with a characteristic chondroid appearance. Pathologic fractures were present in six long bone lesions (4, humerus; 2, femur). Lesions in the proximal humerus were more likely to have indistinct margins (4/5) and extend into the diaphysis. Flat bone lesions were typically lytic and expansile and occasionally demonstrated areas of cortical disruption. Typically, matrix mineralization, when present, was amorphous. MR imaging, when available, was superior to conventional radiographs for demonstrating the intramedullary extent of a lesion as well as soft tissue extension. CT images better delineated the presence of cortical destruction and the character of matrix mineralization patterns. CCCS lesions were typically low signal intensity on T1-weighted images and moderately or significantly bright on T2-weighted images. Areas of lesion heterogeneity on T1- and T2-weighted images and on post-gadolinium T1-weighted images corresponded pathologically to areas of mineralization, intralesional hemorrhage, and cystic changes. Adjacent bone marrow edema was typically absent (12/15) or only minimally observed in a few cases (3/15). No cases examined with MR imaging demonstrated periosteal new bone formation.

Conclusions

CCCS typically presents radiographically as a geographic lytic lesion located in the epimetaphyseal region of long bones. Most commonly lesions are found in the proximal femur, followed by the proximal humerus. Lesions within the proximal humerus may exhibit more aggressive features. Lesions in the axial skeleton are typically expansile and destructive, often with soft tissue extension and lack of mineralization. MR imaging may show the presence or absence of bone marrow edema.