Imaging of primary central nervous system lymphoma

Clin Radiol. 2011 Aug;66(8):768-77. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) comprises 5% of all primary brain tumours. PCNSL demonstrates a variety of well-documented imaging findings, which can vary depending on immune status and histological type. Imaging features of PCNSL may overlap with other tumours and infection making definitive diagnosis challenging. In addition, several rare variants of PCNSL have been described, each with their own imaging characteristics. Advanced imaging techniques including 2-[(18)F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose ((18)FDG) and (11)C positron-emission tomography (PET), (201)Tl single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), (1)H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and MR perfusion, have been used to aid differentiation of PCNSL from other tumours. Ultimately, no imaging method can definitively diagnose PCNSL, and histology is required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18