Fluid-fluid level: a nonspecific finding in tumors of bone and soft tissue

Radiology. 1990 Jun;175(3):779-82. doi: 10.1148/radiology.175.3.2160676.


Fluid-fluid levels have commonly been reported to occur in aneurysmal bone cysts but have also been seen in telangiectatic osteosarcoma, chondroblastoma, and giant cell tumor of bone. The authors reviewed their experience with nine bone and three soft-tissue tumors that showed fluid-fluid levels on computed tomographic or magnetic resonance images. The bone tumors included fibrous dysplasia, simple bone cyst, recurrent malignant fibrous histiocytoma of bone, two classical osteosarcomas, and four aneurysmal bone cysts. The soft-tissue tumors included soft-tissue hemangioma and two synovial sarcomas. Except for aneurysmal bone cysts, these types of tumors have not been reported to be associated with fluid-fluid levels. Radiologic-pathologic correlation was available in seven patients; in all seven, the fluid-fluid levels indicated prior hemorrhage. The authors conclude that the presence of fluid-fluid levels in bone or soft-tissue tumors cannot be considered diagnostic of any particular tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bone Cysts / diagnosis
  • Bone Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Cysts / pathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / diagnosis
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / diagnostic imaging
  • Sarcoma, Synovial / pathology
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed