Peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumors. CT and MRI evaluation

C. Ibarburen, J. J. Haberman, E. A. Zerhouni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical, radiographic, and pathologic features of 17 patients with documented peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) were evaluated in a retrospective study. The age at diagnosis ranged from 9 months to 46 years (median, 15.8 years). Primary sites of involvement were the abdomen (n = 8), extremities (n = 5), chest (n = 1), temporal bone (n = 1), maxilla (n = 1), and diploe (n = 1). At the time of diagnosis, six patients had distant metastases; all of these patients died, with an average survival of 8.8 months. Radiologic workup included standard radiographs, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scintigraphy. The radiographic appearance of these tumors was not specific for differentiation of PNETs from other types of bone and soft tissue tumors. The typical appearance resembled large non-calcified, soft tissue masses with cystic or necrotic areas. Heterogeneous enhancement with intravenous contrast agents was evident on CT, as was an intermediate signal intensity on T1-weighted images and hyperintense signal on T2-weighted and STIR sequences. After gadolinium administration, variable enhancement was seen. MRI and CT were useful in predicting resectability, in detecting distant metastases, and in the evaluation of response to treatment. Surgery was performed in all cases, either for definitive diagnosis or for therapy. All patients received combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy and five patients received autologous bone marrow transplantation. Clinical follow-up was obtained over a mean period of 3 years (range 1 day to 6 years). Prognosis was poor with a median survival of 3.4 years. Our experience in 17 patients with peripheral neuroectodermal tumors indicates that although their radiologic features are non-specific, they should be included in differential diagnosis of soft tissue tumors of aggressive behavior, especially in a young age group. CT and MRI are useful in delineating the extent and resectability of tumor and in monotoring treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1996


  • Neoplams, neuroectodermal
  • Soft tissue, neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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