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What are the differentiating clinical and MRI-features of enchondromas from low-grade chondrosarcomas?

  • Musculoskeletal
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To evaluate the role of clinical assessment, conventional and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI in differentiating enchondromas from chondrosarcomas of long bone.


The following clinical and MRI findings were assessed: age, gender, pain, pain attributable to lesion, tumour location, tumour length, presence, depth of endosteal scalloping, bone marrow oedema, soft tissue oedema, cortical destruction, periosteal reaction, bone expansion, macroscopic fat, calcification, soft tissue mass, haemorrhage, dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI. Clinical and MRI findings were compared with histopathological grading.


Sixty patients with central chondroid tumours were included (27 enchondromas, 10 cartilaginous lesions of unknown malignant potential, 15 grade 1 chondrosarcomas, 8 high-grade chondrosarcomas). Pain attributed to lesion, tumour length, endosteal scalloping > 2/3, cortical destruction, bone expansion and soft tissue mass were differentiating features between enchondromas and grade 1 chondrosarcomas. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI could not differentiate enchondromas from grade 1 chondrosarcomas.


Previously reported imaging signs of chondrosarcomas are useful in the diagnosis of grade 1 lesions but have lower sensitivity than in higher grade lesions. Deep endosteal scalloping is the most sensitive imaging sign of grade 1 chondrosarcomas. Pain due to the lesion is an important clinical sign of grade 1 chondrosarcomas. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI is not useful in differentiating enchondromas from grade 1 chondrosarcomas.

Key Points

Differentiation of enchondroma from low-grade chondrosarcoma is challenging for radiologists and pathologists.

The utility of clinical assessment, conventional and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI was uncertain.

Clinical assessment and conventional MRI aid in differentiating enchondromas from low-grade chondrosarcoma.

Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI cannot differentiate enchondromas from grade 1 chondrosarcoma.

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Cartilaginous lesion of unknown malignant potential


Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI


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We acknowledge the help of Dr Peter Nightingale (statistician at the University Hospital Birmingham) with the statistical analysis.

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Correspondence to Hassan Douis.

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The scientific guarantor of this publication is Mark A. Davies.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.


The authors state that this work has not received any funding.

Statistics and biometry

Peter Nightingale kindly provided statistical advice for this manuscript.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was not required for this study because of the retrospective nature of the study.


• retrospective

• observational

• performed at one institution

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Douis, H., Parry, M., Vaiyapuri, S. et al. What are the differentiating clinical and MRI-features of enchondromas from low-grade chondrosarcomas?. Eur Radiol 28, 398–409 (2018).

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