Magnetic resonance imaging of bone marrow versus bone marrow biopsy in malignant lymphoma

Pathol Oncol Res. 1999;5(2):123-8. doi: 10.1053/paor.1999.0183.


Bone marrow involvement is a frequent finding in malignant lymphoma. Bone marrow biopsy of the posterior iliac crest is routinely performed for staging. Abnormal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signals of bone marrow was also reported to be indicative of bone marrow involvement. This study included 60 patients with malignant lymphoma. Unilateral bone marrow biopsy of the posterior iliac crest was performed. MRI of lumbar spine was studied within 24 hours of bone marrow biopsy. 22 healthy controls were used for the detection of MRI objectivity during visual evaluation. In 83% of patients (50/60), biopsy and MRI results agreed completely. In two patients, histologic sections failed to show any evidence of bone marrow involvement despite abnormal MRI signals suggestive of involvement. In three patients, MRI was completely normal despite biopsy proven bone marrow infiltration. False negativity (3/60) and false positivity (2/60) rates were very low. Negative biopsy findings with positive or equivocal MRI results should not exclude bone marrow involvement and needs further evaluation with bilateral or guided biopsy. Thus, we conclude that MRI of bone marrow is a fairly sensitive, noninvasive modality and might be of potential value in detecting bone marrow infiltration in malignant lymphoid neoplasms which can be utilized as a useful adjunct to standard staging procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged