Imaging review of lipomatous musculoskeletal lesions

SICOT J. 2017;3:34. doi: 10.1051/sicotj/2017015. Epub 2017 May 5.


Lipomatous lesions are common musculoskeletal lesions that can arise within the soft tissues, bone, neurovascular structures, and synovium. The majority of these lesions are benign, and many of the benign lesions can be diagnosed by radiologic evaluation. However, radiologic differences between benign and malignant lipomatous lesions may be subtle and pathologic correlation is often needed. The use of sonography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is useful not only in portraying fat within the lesion, but also for evaluating the presence and extent of soft tissue components. Lipomas make up most soft tissue lipomatous lesions, but careful evaluation must be performed to distinguish these lesions from a low-grade liposarcoma. In addition to the imaging appearance, the location of the lesion and the patient demographics can be utilized to help diagnose other soft tissue lipomatous lesions, such as elastofibroma dorsi, angiolipoma, lipoblastoma, and hibernoma. Osseous lipomatous lesions such as a parosteal lipoma and intraosseous lipoma occur less commonly as their soft tissue counterpart, but are also benign. Neurovascular and synovial lipomatous lesions are much rarer lesions but demonstrate more classic radiologic findings, particularly on MRI. A review of the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic characteristics of these lesions is presented.