Magnetic resonance imaging of head and neck vascular anomalies: pearls and pitfalls

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PurposeThe aim of this study was to describe typical MRI features of the head and neck vascular anomalies and the possible diagnostic pitfalls.Patients and methodsPatients with extracranial vascular anomalies of the head and neck, who underwent MRI examinations between January 2013 and January 2016, were included in the study. Precontrast and postcontrast T1-WI, T2-WI, with and without fat saturation were acquired. When indicated, a noncontrast MR angiography was performed. Dynamic postcontrast MRI techniques were available in six children.ResultsThe study included 33 patients (age ranged from 10 to 20 years, mean: 49 months). MRI confirmed the clinical diagnosis in equivocal cases, and provided proper determination of lesion extension and/or associated intracranial anomalies. The study included 10 cases of vascular tumors (hemangioma), whereas the remaining 23 cases had the diagnosis of vascular malformations (one patient with arteriovenous malformation, one with capillary malformation, seven with venous, nine with macrocystic lymphatic, and five with microcystic lymphatic malformations).ConclusionVascular anomalies in the head and neck are mostly diagnosed on clinical basis; however, when the history is uncertain or the diagnosis is equivocal, a well-tailored MR examination can be a single valuable diagnostic tool providing structural and functional information.

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