Objective: Esthesioneuroblastomas are uncommon tumors originating in the olfactory epithelium of the superior nasal cavity. Accurate staging appropriately guides therapy and predicts survival. The MR appearance and pattern of contrast enhancement in these tumors have not been well described. The goals of this article were to analyze the MRI characteristics of esthesioneuroblastoma, including extent of tumor, differentiation from obstructive sinus disease, MR signal, and pattern of contrast enhancement.
Materials and methods: The MR examinations of six patients with proven advanced esthesioneuroblastoma were reviewed. Standard SE T1- and T2-weighted axial images were obtained [550-600/15-25 and 2,000-2,760/80-90 (TR/TE), respectively], followed by postcontrast axial and coronal T1-weighted sequences in all patients.
Results: Five of the six tumors were centered in the superior nasal cavity and one was centered in the lateral ethmoid air cells. Five tumors extended intracranially. Postobstructive sinus disease was always encountered. As compared to gray matter, the signal on T1-weighted images was either hypo- or isointense. On T2-weighted images, the signal varied from iso- to hyperintensity. Contrast enhancement was intense and of variable uniformity.
Conclusion: Magnetic resonance signal characteristics helped to distinguish obstructive sinus disease from tumor. The MR signal characteristics and pattern of contrast enhancement were nonspecific for esthesioneuroblastoma. Enhanced images, particularly in the coronal plane, were very helpful in identifying intracranial extension.