Uterine fibroid-like tumors: spectrum of MR imaging findings and their differential diagnosis

Abdom Radiol (NY). 2022 Jun;47(6):2197-2208. doi: 10.1007/s00261-022-03431-6. Epub 2022 Mar 26.


Uterine leiomyoma, also known as uterine fibroid, is the most common gynecological tumor, affecting almost 80% of women at some point during their lives. In the same time, other fibroid-like tumors have similar clinical presentations and about 0.5% of resected tumors of which were presumed benign fibroids in the preoperative diagnosis revealed as malignant sarcomas in the final histopathological examination. Amid the emergence of nonsurgical or minimally invasive procedures for symptomatic benign uterine fibroids, such as uterine artery embolization, high-intensity-focused ultrasound, or laparoscopic myomectomy, the preoperative diagnosis of uterine tumors through imaging becomes all the more relevant. Preoperative tissue sampling is challenging because of the variable location of the myometrial mass; thus, the preoperative evaluation of size and location is increasingly performed through magnetic resonance imaging. Features in images might also be useful for examining the full spectrum of such growths, from benign fibroids to neoplasms of uncertain behavior and malignant sarcomas. Benign fibroids include usual-type leiomyomas, myomas with degeneration, and mitotically active leiomyomas. Neoplasms of uncertain behavior include smooth muscle tumors of uncertain malignant potential, leiomyomas with bizarre nuclei, and cellular leiomyomas. Malignant sarcomas comprise leiomyosarcomas, endometrial stromal sarcomas, adenosarcomas, and carcinosarcomas. The purpose of this article is to review the spectrum of MRI findings of uterine fibroid-like tumors, from benign variants, uncertain behavior to malignant sarcomas, and update the advanced imaging modalities, including diffusion-weighted imaging, positron emission tomography/computed tomography, combining texture analysis and radiomics, to tackle this important issue.

Keywords: Leiomyomas; Leiomyosarcomas; Magnetic resonance imaging; Uterine neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endometrial Neoplasms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Leiomyoma* / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Sarcoma*
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / pathology