Neuroblastoma, ganglioneuroblastoma, and ganglioneuroma: radiologic-pathologic correlation

Radiographics. Jul-Aug 2002;22(4):911-34. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.22.4.g02jl15911.


Neuroblastoma, ganglioneuroblastoma, and ganglioneuroma are tumors of the sympathetic nervous system that arise from primitive sympathogonia and are referred to collectively as neuroblastic tumors. They arise wherever sympathetic tissue exists and may be seen in the neck, posterior mediastinum, adrenal gland, retroperitoneum, and pelvis. The three tumors differ in their degree of cellular and extracellular maturation; immature tumors tend to be aggressive and occur in younger patients (median age, just under 2 years), whereas mature tumors occur in older children (median age, approximately 7 years) and tend to behave in a benign fashion. The most benign tumor is the ganglioneuroma, which is composed of gangliocytes and mature stroma. Ganglioneuroblastoma is composed of both mature gangliocytes and immature neuroblasts and has intermediate malignant potential. Neuroblastoma is the most immature, undifferentiated, and malignant tumor of the three. Neuroblastoma, however, may have a relatively benign course, even when metastatic. Thus, these neuroblastic tumors vary widely in their biologic behavior. Features such as DNA content, tumor proto-oncogenes, and catecholamine synthesis influence prognosis, and their presence or absence aids in categorizing patients as high, intermediate, or low risk. Treatment consists of surgery and, usually, chemotherapy. Despite recent advances in treatment, including bone marrow transplantation, neuroblastoma remains a relatively lethal tumor, accounting for 10% of pediatric cancers but 15% of cancer deaths in children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ganglioneuroblastoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Ganglioneuroblastoma / pathology
  • Ganglioneuroma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ganglioneuroma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed