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Solitary fibrous tumors of the soft tissues: imaging features with histopathologic correlations

Zafaria G Papathanassiou, Marco Alberghini, Piero Picci, Eric Staals, Marco Gambarotti, Francesco Giuseppe Garaci and Daniel Vanel*

Author Affiliations

The Rizzoli Institute, via del Barbiano 1/10, 40136, Bologna, Italy

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Clinical Sarcoma Research 2013, 3:1  doi:10.1186/2045-3329-3-1

Published: 25 January 2013



To describe the imaging features of soft tissue solitary fibrous tumors, with histopathological correlations and clinical outcome.

Material and methods

Twenty-seven patients with histologically proven SFTs were retrospectively evaluated. Imaging studies included six radiographs, five U/S studies, eighteen CT scans, fourteen MRI exams, and one angiography.


On CT scans, two lesions were isodense and five were mildly hypodense compared to muscle while 11 lesions appeared heterogeneous-mixed of iso and hypodense areas. Heterogeneous enhancement was depicted in 13 lesions and four lesions enhanced homogeneously. Six lesions were partially calcified. On T1W MR images, seven lesions were isointense and one was slightly hyperintense relative to adjacent muscles while five lesions appeared heterogeneous-mixed of iso and hypointense areas. T2W images showed high SI in two cases and heterogeneous-mixed in seven cases. Enhancement was heterogeneous in six and homogeneous in four lesions. Patchy unenhanced areas (on CT and T1W MR images) along with patchy areas of low to markedly high SI on T2W images were depicted in 19 lesions. The enhanced portions correlated to areas of increased vascularity and cellularity. The four clinically more aggressive lesions could not be predicted on imaging.


Typical soft tissue SFTs are deep masses made of isodense and isointense areas relative to adjacent muscles mixed with hypodense and hypointense areas on unenhanced CT and MR T1W respectively. Variable enhancement patterns and mixed to high signal intensities on MRT2W are attributed to tumor’s cellularity, vascularity, collagen distribution and/or degeneration. Heterogeneity of SFTs affects imaging features on MRI and CT modalities. The biological behavior of soft tissue SFTs can not be predicted based solely either on histopathologic or imaging evaluation.

Solitary fibrous tumor; Magnetic resonance imaging; Soft tissue tumor; Computed tomography; Soft tissue tumor