Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 11–19 | Cite as

Local changes in bone marrow at MRI after treatment of extremity soft tissue sarcoma

  • Sinchun Hwang
  • Robert Lefkowitz
  • Jonathan Landa
  • Oguz Akin
  • Lawrence H. Schwartz
  • Conrad Cassie
  • John H. Healey
  • Kaled M. Alektiar
  • David M. PanicekEmail author
Scientific Article



To determine the prevalence and appearance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal changes that occur in local bone marrow after radiation therapy (RT) and/or chemotherapy for extremity soft tissue sarcoma (STS).

Materials and methods

Seventy patients with primary STS at the level of a long bone who also had undergone pretreatment MRI and at least one post-treatment MRI of the tumor bed were identified. MRIs of each patient were retrospectively reviewed for new changes in marrow signal in the region of the tumor bed and for the morphology, relative signal intensities, heterogeneity, and progression or regression of changes over time.


Focal signal changes in marrow were observed in 26/70 patients (37%) at a median of 9.5 months after RT and/or chemotherapy and diffuse changes in seven (10%) at a median of 8 months. Patients who received neither RT nor chemotherapy did not develop marrow changes. Mean RT doses in patients with changes and those without were 5,867 and 6,076 cGy, respectively. In most patients with focal changes, changes were seen in all sequences and were linear–curvilinear, patchy, or mixed at the level of the tumor bed. Predominant signal intensity of changes was between muscle and fat at T1WI and between muscle and fluid at fat-saturated T2WI or short tau inversion recovery. Most focal changes enhanced heterogeneously and increased or fluctuated in size over time.


Changes in MRI appearance of long bone marrow frequently are evident after combined RT and chemotherapy for STS and most commonly increase or fluctuate in size over time. These changes have various non-mass-like configurations and often show signal intensities similar to those of red marrow and thus should not be mistaken for metastases. The marrow changes might represent an early stage of gelatinous transformation of marrow.


Soft tissue sarcoma Bone marrow MRI Radiation therapy Chemotherapy 



We thank Murray Brennan, MD, for his insightful observations and discussions, and Mark Edgar, MD, for providing the pathologic correlation in Fig. 8.


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Copyright information

© ISS 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sinchun Hwang
    • 1
  • Robert Lefkowitz
    • 1
  • Jonathan Landa
    • 1
  • Oguz Akin
    • 1
  • Lawrence H. Schwartz
    • 1
  • Conrad Cassie
    • 1
  • John H. Healey
    • 2
  • Kaled M. Alektiar
    • 3
  • David M. Panicek
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyMemorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyMemorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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