The majority of peripheral musculoskeletal soft tissue masses encountered in routine clinical practice are benign and associated with an excellent prognosis, whereas a small proportion of soft tissue masses are malignant and are associated with higher morbidity and mortality. Owing to the excellent tissue contrast resolution provided, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a primary modality for the diagnostic evaluation of soft tissue masses, particularly for defining the anatomic extent. MRI is also useful for the characterization of soft tissue masses; however, after the exclusion of cysts and lipomas, it is challenging to accurately categorize neoplastic lesions as benign or malignant with conventional anatomic MRI. Quantitative MRI biomarkers obtained with nonconventional pulse sequences are becoming increasingly available, and can improve the accuracy of determining the character of soft tissue masses. In this article we discuss established qualitative and emerging quantitative MRI-based biomarkers available with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging, and MR spectroscopy and their utility for the characterization of untreated soft tissue masses. Level of Evidence: 5. Technical Efficacy Stage: 5. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2019;50:11–27.
- diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI)
- dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE)
- MR spectroscopy (MRS)
- soft tissue tumors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging