MRI nomenclature for musculoskeletal infection

Skeletal Radiol. 2021 Dec;50(12):2319-2347. doi: 10.1007/s00256-021-03807-7. Epub 2021 Jun 18.


The Society of Skeletal Radiology (SSR) Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards Committee identified musculoskeletal infection as a White Paper topic, and selected a Committee, tasked with developing a consensus on nomenclature for MRI of musculoskeletal infection outside the spine. The objective of the White Paper was to critically assess the literature and propose standardized terminology for imaging findings of infection on MRI, in order to improve both communication with clinical colleagues and patient care.A definition was proposed for each term; debate followed, and the committee reached consensus. Potential controversies were raised, with formulated recommendations. The committee arrived at consensus definitions for cellulitis, soft tissue abscess, and necrotizing infection, while discouraging the nonspecific term phlegmon. For bone infection, the term osteitis is not useful; the panel recommends using terms that describe the likelihood of osteomyelitis in cases where definitive signal changes are lacking. The work was presented virtually to SSR members, who had the opportunity for review and modification prior to submission for publication.

Keywords: Abscess; MRI; Musculoskeletal infection; Osteomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess
  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Osteomyelitis* / diagnostic imaging