Bone marrow edema - premonitory sign in malignant hemopathies or nonspecific change?

Rom J Morphol Embryol. 2014;55(3 Suppl):1079-84.


Bone marrow edema (BME) is defined as an excess of fluids that builds up in the bone marrow (BM), commonly found because of osteoporosis, trauma, infections, ischemia or neoplasia. Histologically, BME is characterized by accumulation of extracellular eosinophilic fluid. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the only method that highlights the presence of BME caused by various diseases, including the one associated with hematological malignancies. The classic MRI protocol for the study of BM and BME includes T1- and T2-weighted sequences, the STIR sequence, and in some cases, the administration of intravenous contrast agents in T1-weighted sequences. Fifty-four patients were investigated; there were identified 30 patients with MRI features of BME. Out of the 30 patients with BME, 24 were known to have a malignant hematological disease (multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma); for the remaining subjects, imagistic findings and other laboratory investigations led to multiple myeloma diagnosis. Of the 30 patients, six showed characteristic lesions of the underlying disease as well as BME; four patients had only BME. BM is a structure that is commonly investigated using MRI scans, regardless of the examined bone segment. T1-weighted images and T2-weighted with fat suppression are essential for BME evaluation. Moreover, MRI allows monitoring disease progression and treatment response in patients with malignant hemopathies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Edema / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged