Imaging strategies in the evaluation of soft-tissue hemangiomas of the extremities: correlation of the findings of plain radiography, angiography, CT, MRI, and ultrasonography in 12 histologically proven cases

Skeletal Radiol. 1992;21(1):11-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00243086.


Twelve patients with the histologic diagnosis of soft-tissue hemangioma of the extremities (nine intramuscular, two subcutaneous, and one synovial) were evaluated in a retrospective study using plain film radiography (n = 12), angiography (n = 8), computed tomography (CT; n = 4), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; n = 3), and ultrasonography (US; n = 2). In eight of nine intramuscular lesions, the plain film demonstration of phleboliths suggested the diagnosis, while the plain radiographs were normal in three. Angiograms showed the pathognomonic features of soft-tissue hemangioma in six patients. MRI was characteristic in all three patients: The lesion demonstrated intermediate signal intensity on T1-weighted spin echo images and extremely bright signal on T2-weighting. US showed a hypoechoic soft-tissue mass in one case and a mixed echo pattern in the other. In one case, a central echogenic focus with acoustic shadowing consistent with a calcified phlebolith was identified, and one lesion exhibited increased color flow and low resistance arterial Doppler signal. CT showed a nonspecific mass in one of four cases and a mass with phleboliths in three. If a deep hemangioma is suspected, we recommend initial imaging with plain radiography followed by MRI. US may be useful in confirming the presence of a mass in doubtful cases or if MRI is unavailable. CT offers no distinct advantage over the combined use of plain radiography and MRI. Although angiography demonstrated the pathognomonic features in all six deeply situated lesions, because of its invasiveness it should be reserved chiefly for those patients undergoing surgical resection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Angiography
  • Child
  • Extremities*
  • Female
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis*
  • Hemangioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemangioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography