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Magnetic resonance and computed tomography-based scoring system for the differential diagnosis of vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis and malignant tumors

  • Original article
  • Published:
Journal of Orthopaedic Science



Previous reports have described magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings alleged to be specific for vertebral fractures caused by malignant lesions. Using such findings for differential diagnosis is often difficult, especially during the early phase of the fracture. With the relative inaccuracy of any single imaging finding, a validated scoring system based on a combination of imaging findings might lead to enhanced diagnostic accuracy. The purpose of this study was to establish a diagnostic scoring system for discriminating osteoporotic vertebral fractures from those caused by malignant tumors on the basis of MRI and computed tomography (CT) findings.


Ten MRI and CT scan findings of 57 osteoporotic vertebral fractures and 43 neoplastic fractures were retrospectively evaluated for their ability to discriminate between malignant and benign vertebral fractures.


The following four MRI and two CT findings were selected as the basis for the scoring system: pedicle or other posterior element involvement; extension into the paravertebral region; preservation of normal bone marrow signal; a continuous black line representing the posterior vertebral body margin on T2-weighted MRI images; osteolytic destruction; and distinct fracture lines on CT.


By combining the findings common to MRI and CT scans of vertebral fractures, a simple scoring system was devised. This scoring system was found to enhance the accuracy of imaging diagnosis of fractures caused by benign or malignant spinal lesions.

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Yuzawa, Y., Ebara, S., Kamimura, M. et al. Magnetic resonance and computed tomography-based scoring system for the differential diagnosis of vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis and malignant tumors. J Orthop Sci 10, 345–352 (2005).

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