Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 1350–1364 | Cite as

Getting the GIST: a pictorial review of the various patterns of presentation of gastrointestinal stromal tumors on imaging

  • Dominic ScolaEmail author
  • Lawrence Bahoura
  • Alexander Copelan
  • Ali Shirkhoda
  • Farnoosh Sokhandon
Pictorial Essay


Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), the most common mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, are a relatively recently described entity. Most exhibit a mutated tyrosine kinase receptor gene and in some capacity are treated by tyrosine kinase inhibitors. GISTs can occur across the age spectrum but are more common in patients older than 40 years. They exhibit a wide range of clinical presentations and imaging characteristics. All patterns of enhancement on contrast enhanced computed tomography (CECT) can be seen with GISTs, including hypoenhancing, isoenhancing, and hyperenhancing tumors. They can be large or small, endoluminal or exophytic. Clinical presentations include asymptomatic patients, nonspecific symptoms, obstruction, and bleeding. Bleeding can take the form of slow, intraluminal GI bleeding or massive intraperitoneal bleeding secondary to rupture and can be seen regardless of the enhancement pattern. Some can cavitate, ulcerate, rupture or cause fistulae. The radiologist’s knowledge of the variety of combinations of presentations can narrow the differential diagnosis and ultimately lead to faster diagnosis and treatment.


GIST Focal small bowel lesions CT-enterography 


Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

Statement of informed consent was not applicable since the manuscript does not contain any patient data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Molecular ImagingBeaumont HealthRoyal OakUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiology and Diagnostic ImagingUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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