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Differentiation of Intraspinal Tuberculosis and Metastatic Cancer Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Authors Li Q, Song J, Li X, Luo T, Peng J, Lv F, Li Y, Huang Z, Wang A

Received 24 July 2019

Accepted for publication 8 January 2020

Published 4 February 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 341—349


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Joachim Wink

QuanJiang Li,1,* Juan Song,2,* XinYou Li,1 TianYou Luo,1 Juan Peng,1 FaJin Lv,1 YongMei Li,1 ZhongXin Huang,1 AnRan Wang1

1Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Gastroenterology & Endocrinology, Wuhan No. 9 Hospital, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Juan Peng
Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, 1 Youyi Road, Yuanjiagang, Yuzhong District, Chongqing 400016, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 1 898 328 0171

Purpose: This study aimed to explore the differences in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings between intraspinal tuberculosis and metastatic cancer, which may aid in making the correct diagnosis.
Patients and Methods: The clinical features and MRI findings of 15 patients with intraspinal tuberculosis and 11 patients with intraspinal metastatic cancers were retrospectively analyzed.
Results: The mean ages of the patients with intraspinal tuberculosis and metastatic cancer were 26.3 (15– 42) and 52.1 (38– 67) years, respectively. All intraspinal tuberculosis cases were secondary to primary extraspinal tuberculosis, including tuberculous meningitis (11/15), as well as pulmonary (9/15), vertebral (5/15), urinary tract (1/15), abdominal (1/15), cervical lymph node (1/15), and multisystem tuberculosis (9/15). The intraspinal metastases originated from the breast (5/11), lung (3/11), kidney (1/11), ovarian (1/11), and nasopharyngeal cancers (1/11). Both intraspinal tuberculosis and metastatic cancers presented with multiple intra- and extramedullary lesions throughout all regional segments of the spinal canal, accompanied by irregularly thickened meninges. Intraspinal tuberculous lesions had indistinct edges that integrated with each other, most of them exhibiting obvious enhancement on MRI. Conversely, intraspinal metastatic lesions were distinctly separated with clear edges and exhibited lesser enhanced MRI than intraspinal tuberculosis.
Conclusion: A combined analysis of clinical features and MRI findings may be helpful in differentiating intraspinal tuberculosis from metastatic cancer.

Keywords: intraspinal tuberculosis, intraspinal metastatic cancer, intramedullary nodule, leptomeningitis

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