Secondary tumors and tumorlike lesions of the peritoneal cavity: imaging features with pathologic correlation

Radiographics. 2009 Mar-Apr;29(2):347-73. doi: 10.1148/rg.292085189.


Tumors and tumorlike lesions that secondarily involve the mesothelial or submesothelial layers of the peritoneum are a diverse group of disorders that range in biologic behavior from benign to highly malignant. The anatomy of peritoneal ligaments and mesenteries and the normal circulation of peritoneal fluid dictate location and distribution of these diseases within the peritoneal cavity. Peritoneal carcinomatosis is the most common secondary tumor to affect the peritoneal cavity. When it arises from carcinomas of the gastrointestinal tract or ovary, the prognosis is grave. However, when low-grade mucinous adenocarcinoma of the appendix spreads to the peritoneal cavity, the consequence is typically pseudomyxoma peritonei, which is a clinical syndrome, characterized by recurrent and recalcitrant voluminous mucinous ascites due to surface growth on the peritoneum without significant invasion of underlying tissues. Carcinomas from elsewhere in the body, as well as lymphomas and sarcomas, may also produce diffuse peritoneal metastasis. Granulomatous peritonitis is the consequence of disseminated infection such as tuberculosis or histoplasmosis, foreign materials, or rupture of a tumor or hollow viscus. Finally, a group of benign miscellaneous conditions that range from common disorders such as endometriosis and splenosis to very rare conditions such as gliomatosis peritonei and melanosis may also affect the peritoneum diffusely. Secondary tumors and tumorlike lesions of the peritoneum have overlapping imaging features when compared with each other and primary peritoneal tumors. Knowledge of peritoneal anatomy, normal fluid circulation within the peritoneal cavity, and clinical and pathologic features of secondary peritoneal lesions is essential for identification of these lesions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Mesothelial / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Mesothelial / secondary*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Young Adult