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Spinal osteoblastoma: CT and MR imaging with pathological correlation

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Objectives. To illustrate the CT and MRI features of spinal osteoblastomas and correlate the imaging with histological findings. Design. In a retrospective review the CT and MRI features of spinal osteoblastomas with respect to mineralisation, signal intensity (SI), adjacent reactive changes, enhancement following gadolinium-DTPA (5 cases) and adjacent soft tissue masses were compared and correlated with the histological findings including the degree of osteoid formation and matrix mineralisation, vascularity and surrounding reactive changes in bone and soft tissue. Patients. Eleven patients (7 males and 4 females; age range 8–43 years, mean age 19.5 years) with 12 osteoblastomas (1 patient suffered a recurrence) were studied. Results. All lesions showed classical features on CT with varying degrees of matrix mineralisation, whereas MRI identified mineralisation in only eight of 12 cases. MRI showed low signal intensity of the lesion on both T1- and T2-weighted sequences in several cases in the absence of heavy mineralisation. In these cases, histological examination revealed diffuse osteoid production by the tumour. All patients given gadolinium showed enhancement within the tumour on MRI. Reactive bone marrow changes were identified on MRI in 10 cases, and in five of these the changes were at multiple levels. An adjacent soft tissue mass was demonstrated in five cases, but extraosseous tumour was present histologically in only two of these. Conclusions. The MRI appearances of spinal osteoblastomas are varied and show no characteristic features. MRI may also overestimate the extent of the lesion due to extensive reactive changes and adjacent soft tissue masses. CT should continue to be the investigation of choice for the characterisation and local staging of suspected spinal osteoblastomas.

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Shaikh, M., Saifuddin, A., Pringle, J. et al. Spinal osteoblastoma: CT and MR imaging with pathological correlation. Skeletal Radiol 28, 33–40 (1999).

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