Ultrasound and MR imaging of peripheral nerve tumors: the state of the art

Skeletal Radiol. 2023 Mar;52(3):405-419. doi: 10.1007/s00256-022-04087-5. Epub 2022 Jun 17.


Peripheral nerve sheath tumors are a heterogeneous subgroup of soft tissue tumors that either arise from a peripheral nerve or show nerve sheath differentiation. On imaging, direct continuity with a neural structure or location along a typical nerve distribution represents the most important signs to suggest the diagnosis. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging are the best modalities to evaluate these lesions. First, it is necessary to differentiate between a true tumor and a non-neoplastic nerve condition such as a neuroma, peripheral nerve ganglion, intraneural venous malformation, lipomatosis of nerve, or nerve focal hypertrophy. Then, with a combination of clinical features, conventional and advanced imaging appearances, it is usually possible to characterize neurogenic tumors confidently. This article reviews the features of benign and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, including the rare and recently described tumor types. Furthermore, other malignant neoplasms of peripheral nerves as well as non-neoplastic conditions than can mimick neurogenic tumor are herein discussed.

Keywords: MR imaging; Nerve; Peripheral nerve sheath tumor; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neuroma*
  • Peripheral Nerves / diagnostic imaging
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Peripheral Nervous System Neoplasms* / pathology