Fat-containing pelvic lesions in females

Abdom Radiol (NY). 2022 Jan;47(1):362-377. doi: 10.1007/s00261-021-03299-y. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


Pelvic tumors are common in females and have a broad differential diagnosis. The clinical management of pelvic tumors varies widely-from observation to surgical resection-and imaging plays a pivotal role in diagnosis and clinical decision-making in these cases. In particular, imaging can help determine the organ of origin and tissue content of these tumors, which are the most important steps to narrowing the differential diagnosis. Fat has a characteristic appearance and is often easily identified on ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The amount and distribution of intralesional fat varies in different types of tumors. Macroscopic intralesional fat is often easily recognized by its hyperechoic appearance on US and low attenuation on CT similar to subcutaneous fat. On MRI, macroscopic fat is hyperintense on T1-weighted (T1W) images, with characteristic signal loss on fat-saturated sequences and India-ink artifact on opposed-phase T1W images. Macroscopic fat is the hallmark of teratomas, which are the most common ovarian neoplasms. Uterine lipoleiomyomas, peritoneal loose bodies, intraperitoneal and extraperitoneal primary lipomatous tumors such as lipoma and liposarcomas, and extra-adrenal myelolipomas are other pelvic masses distinguished by the presence of macroscopic fat. However, the imaging diagnosis of pelvic masses containing minimal or microscopic fat, such as immature ovarian teratomas, steroid cell ovarian neoplasms, and extramedullary hematopoiesis, can present a diagnostic challenge owing to their nonspecific appearance on US or CT. Obtaining MRI with in-phase and opposed-phase dual-echo T1W sequences and depicting chemical shift artifacts can be helpful in distinguishing these lesions.

Keywords: Fat containing lesions; Female; Pelvis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Ovarian Neoplasms*
  • Teratoma*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed