CT diagnosis and differentiation of benign and malignant varieties of solitary fibrous tumor of the pleura

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To investigate computed tomography (CT) characteristics of benign and malignant solitary fibrous tumors of the pleura (SFTPs).

Preoperative CTs for 60 SFTP cases (49 benign and 11 malignant) with subsequently confirmed diagnoses were retrospectively analyzed.

Tumor morphologies included mounded or mushroom umbrella-shape (19 cases, 31.7%), quasi-circular or oval-shape (30 cases, 50%), and growth resembling a casting mould (12 cases, 20%). Maximum tumor diameters were 1.1 to 18.9 cm (average: 6.4 ± 4.8 cm). Fifty-seven cases had clear boundaries, and 3 had partially coarse boundaries. Twenty-seven cases showed homogeneous density; 33, “geographic”-patterned inhomogeneous density; 6, calcifications; 12, intratumor blood vessels; and 3, thick nourishing peritumoral blood vessels. Pleural thickening (regular and irregular) was found adjacent to tumors in 4, compression of adjacent ribs with absorption and cortical sclerosis in 2, and location adjacent to ribs with bony destruction in 1. Four cases had a small amount of lung tissue enfolded along the boundary, 2 had multiple peritumoral pulmonary bullae, and 9 had small ipsilateral pleural effusions. Compared with benign and malignant SFTPs were larger (P < .001), had inhomogeneous density, and were more commonly associated with intratumor blood vessels and pleural effusions (P < .01).

CT revealed characteristic patterns in SFTPs, including casting mould-like growth, rich blood supply, and “geographic”-patterned enhancement. In addition, larger tumor size, inhomogeneous intensities, abundant intratumor blood vessels, and pleural effusions were more common with malignancy. Lastly, multislice CT angiography can reveal feeding arteries and help guide surgical management.

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