Chordoma: 18F-FDG PET/CT and MRI imaging features

Joshua T. Olson, Doris E. Wenger, Peter S. Rose, Ivy A. Petersen, Stephen M. Broski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Examine the 18F-FDG PET/CT and MRI imaging characteristics of chordoma. Materials and methods: Biopsy-proven chordoma with a pre-therapy 18F-FDG PET/CT from 2001 through 2019 in patients > 18 years old were retrospectively reviewed. Multiple PET/CT and MRI imaging parameters were assessed. Results: A total of 23 chordoma patients were included (16 M, 7 F; average age of 60.1 ± 13.0 years) with comparative MRI available in 22 cases. This included 13 sacrococcygeal, 9 mobile spine, and one clival lesions. On 18F-FDG PET/CT, chordomas demonstrated an average SUVmax of 5.8 ± 3.7, average metabolic tumor volume (MTV) of 160.2 ± 263.8 cm3, and average total lesion glycolysis (TLG) of 542.6 ± 1210 g. All demonstrated heterogeneous FDG activity. On MRI, chordomas were predominantly T2 hyperintense (22/22) and T1 isointense (18/22), contained small foci of T1 hyperintensity (17/22), and demonstrated heterogeneous enhancement (14/20). There were no statistically significant associations found between 18F-FDG PET/CT and MRI imaging features. There was no relationship of SUVmax (p = 0.53), MTV (p = 0.47), TLG (p = 0.48), maximal dimension (p = 0.92), or volume (p = 0.45) to the development of recurrent or metastatic disease which occurred in 6/22 patients over a mean follow-up duration of 4.1 ± 2.0 years. Conclusion: On 18F-FDG PET/CT imaging, chordomas demonstrate moderate, heterogeneous FDG uptake. Predominant T2 hyperintensity and small foci of internal increased T1 signal are common on MRI. The inherent FDG avidity of chordomas suggests that 18F-FDG PET/CT may be a useful modality for staging, evaluating treatment response, and assessing for recurrent or metastatic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1657-1666
Number of pages10
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Chordoma
  • Musculoskeletal MRI
  • PET/CT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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