Popliteal lymph nodes in patients with osteosarcoma: are they metastatic?

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Purpose: To evaluate the prevalence, imaging appearance, and significance of popliteal lymph nodes (PLN) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with distal femoral or proximal tibial osteosarcoma (OS). Method and materials: This study included consecutive patients with OS presenting from May 2016 to March 2018. Inclusion criteria were patients with distal femoral or proximal tibial OS with MRI and pathology at our institution. On MRI, two radiologists recorded primary tumor features (size, location, signal, extra-compartmental extension), and PLN characteristics (mean size, presence/absence of fatty hilum, mineralization, PET/bone scintigraphy avidity, contrast enhancement, and diffusion restriction). Tumor histology, stage, and clinical follow-up were recorded. Descriptive statistics were provided. Results: Sixteen patients with OS (age 20 ± 10 (range10–40) years, 10/16 male) were included. Although 81% (13/16) of the patients had PLNs at presentation (size range 0.3–3.6 cm), fewer patients had extra-compartmental spread: intra-articular extension 50% (8/16), skip lesions 19% (3/16), lung metastases 31% (5/16), and osseous metastases 12% (2/16). Four (25% (4/16)) patients had PLN ≥ 1 cm; two were histologically proven reactive. One was presumed metastatic due to rapid development, mineralization, and FDG-avidity on PET/CT. The other ≥ 1 cm PLNs along with all twelve (75% (12/16)) that were < 1 cm in mean diameter were presumed non-metastatic with documented stability for at least 12 months of follow-up. Conclusion: PLNs are frequently visible on MRI in patients with OS but are rarely (prevalence = 6%) metastatic. Features on MRI which may suggest metastatic PLNs include large size > 1 cm and loss of a fatty hilum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1807-1817
Number of pages11
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • MRI
  • Metastatic
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Popliteal lymph node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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