Bone Tumors pp 11-50 | Cite as

How to Evaluate a Bone Lesion

  • Jim S. Wu
  • Mary G. Hochman


Using a systematic approach is key for evaluating a focal bone lesion. The ultimate goal should be to provide a definitive diagnosis; however, in many instances, this is not possible. Nonetheless, one should aim to provide a short, logical differential diagnosis and to comment on whether the lesion can be left alone as a “do not touch” lesion or whether additional workup is necessary. The analysis should begin with the patient’s age and the location of the lesion, since these two factors play such a significant role in determining the differential diagnosis. Next, assessment of specific lesion characteristics can be used to help narrow the differential, i.e., the lesion’s pattern of bone destruction and lesion margins and the presence of any matrix mineralization, periosteal reaction, or soft tissue component. If multiple lesions are present, that fact can help to refine the diagnosis even further. For example, the presence of multiple lytic lesions in an older individual would lead one to suspect metastatic disease or multiple myeloma. One should also search for relevant secondary findings, such as diffuse osteopenia in multiple myeloma or subperiosteal resorption and acro-osteolysis in hyperparathyroidism, and should consider relevant clinical information, such as a history of malignancy supporting a diagnosis of metastasis or fever and erythema supporting a diagnosis of osteomyelitis.


Multiple Myeloma Bone Lesion Bone Destruction Fibrous Dysplasia Giant Cell Tumor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Suggested Reading

  1. 1.
    Johnson LC, Vinh TN, Sweet DE. Bone tumor dynamics: an orthopedic pathology perspective. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2000;4(1):1–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kricun MR. Parameters of diagnosis In: Kricun, Morrie E, editors. Imaging of bone tumors. Chap. 1. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company; 1993. p. 2–45.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lodwick GS, Wilson AJ, Farrell C, et al. Determining growth rates of focal lesions of bone from radiographs. Radiology. 1980;134:577–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Madewell JE, Ragsdale BD, Sweet DE. Radiologic and pathologic analysis of solitary bone lesions. I. Internal margins. Radiol Clin N Am. 1981;19:715–48.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Madewell JE, Ragsdale BD, Sweet DE. Radiologic and pathologic analysis of solitary bone lesions. II. Periosteal reactions. Radiol Clin N Am. 1981;19:749–83.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Madewell JE, Ragsdale BD, Sweet DE. Radiologic and pathologic analysis of solitary bone lesions. III. Matrix patterns. Radiol Clin N Am. 1981;19:785–815.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Miller TT. Bone tumors and tumor-like conditions: analysis with conventional radiography. Radiology. 2008;246:662–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Priolo F, Cerase A. The current role of radiography in the assessment of skeletal-tumors and tumor-like lesions. Eur J Radiol. 1998;Suppl 1:S77–85.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rana RS, Wu JS, Eisenberg RL. Periosteal reaction. Am J Roentgenol. 2009;193:W259–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Resnick D, Kransdorf MJ. Bone and joint imaging. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2005.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim S. Wu
    • 1
  • Mary G. Hochman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Radiology Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations