From the archives of the AFIP: Imaging of musculoskeletal liposarcoma with radiologic-pathologic correlation

Mark D. Murphey, Lynn K. Arcara, Julie Fanburg-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


Liposarcoma is the second most common type of soft-tissue sarcoma, accounting for 10%-35% of these lesions. The World Health Organization has categorized soft-tissue liposarcomas into five distinct histologic subtypes: well differentiated, dedifferentiated, myxoid, pleomorphic, and mixed type. Well-differentiated liposarcomas frequently demonstrate a diagnostic appearance on computed tomographic (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) images, with a largely lipomatous mass (>75% of the lesion) and nonlipomatous components in thick septa or focal nodules. The CT or MR imaging finding of a nodular dominant focus (>1 cm in size) of nonlipomatous tissue in a well-differentiated liposarcoma suggests dedifferentiated liposarcoma, and biopsy should be directed at the nonadipose component. The high water content of myxoid liposarcoma seen at pathologic analysis and constituting the majority of the lesion is reflected at sonography, CT, and MR imaging. However, the detection of a small amount of adipose tissue in the septa or as small nodular foci superimposed on the background of myxoid tissue allows prospective diagnosis in 78%-95% of myxoid liposarcomas. Pleomorphic liposarcomas are high-grade sarcomatous lesions and typically appear as heterogeneous soft-tissue masses, although small amounts of fat are seen on MR images in 62%-75% of cases, findings that suggest the diagnosis. Mixed-type liposarcomas have features representing a combination of the other subtypes. Primary liposarcoma of bone is exceedingly rare and usually demonstrates aggressive nonspecific features, although fat may be seen. Understanding and recognition of the spectrum of appearances of the various types of musculoskeletal liposarcoma, which reflect their underlying pathologic characteristics, improves radiologic assessment and is vital for optimal patient management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1371-1395
Number of pages25
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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