Diagnosis and Management of Soft-tissue Masses

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Nov;22(11):742-50. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-22-11-742.


Soft-tissue masses of the extremities are common entities encountered by nearly all providers of musculoskeletal patient care. Proper management of these lesions requires a specific process of evaluation. A detailed history and physical examination must be performed. Appropriate imaging studies must be obtained based on clinical indications. MRI is the imaging modality of choice for diagnosis of soft-tissue masses, with CT and ultrasonography used as secondary options. These modalities aid the clinician in developing an appropriate differential diagnosis and treatment plan. When the initial evaluation is inconclusive, biopsy must be performed. A diagnosis must be established before definitive treatment with surgical excision or, in rare cases, radiation therapy is performed. Clinicians without significant experience in treating soft-tissue masses should consider referral to a musculoskeletal oncologist for specialized care when a definitive diagnosis of a benign lesion cannot be made. Several studies have shown that multidisciplinary care in specialized referral centers optimizes outcomes and diminishes comorbid complications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / surgery
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed