From the archives of the AFIP: imaging of primary chondrosarcoma: radiologic-pathologic correlation

Radiographics. 2003 Sep-Oct;23(5):1245-78. doi: 10.1148/rg.235035134.


Chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor that produces cartilage matrix, and lesions that arise de novo are called primary. Primary chondrosarcoma is the third most common primary malignant tumor of bone, constituting 20%-27% of all primary malignant osseous neoplasms. There are numerous types of primary chondrosarcomas, including conventional intramedullary, clear cell, juxtacortical, myxoid, mesenchymal, extraskeletal, and dedifferentiated. The conventional intramedullary chondrosarcoma is the most frequent type, and it most commonly involves the long bones or pelvis in up to 65% of cases. Although the pathologic appearance varies with specific lesion type, chondrosarcomas grow with lobular type architecture, and these hyaline cartilage nodules demonstrate high water content and peripheral enchondral ossification. Imaging features directly reflect this pathologic appearance, and the various subtypes often show distinctive features. Radiographic findings often suggest the diagnosis of chondrosarcoma because of identification of typical "ring-and-arc" chondroid matrix mineralization (representing the enchondral ossification) and aggressive features of deep endosteal scalloping and soft-tissue extension. These latter features are usually best assessed, as is lesion staging, with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. CT is optimal to detect the matrix mineralization, particularly when it is subtle or when the lesion is located in anatomically complex areas. Both CT and MR imaging depict the high water content of these lesions as low attenuation and very high signal intensity with T2-weighting, respectively. Understanding and recognizing the spectrum of appearances of the various types of primary chondrosarcoma allow improved patient assessment and are vital for optimal clinical management including diagnosis, biopsy, staging, treatment, and prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes
  • Archives
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Chondrosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Chondrosarcoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Chondrosarcoma / pathology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine
  • Radiography