Diagnostic accuracy of MRI for the detection of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Mitchell P. Wilson, Prayash Katlariwala, Gavin Low, Mohammad H. Murad, Matthew D.F. McInnes, Line Jacques, Andrew S. Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE. This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluates the diagnostic accuracy of MRI for differentiating malignant (MPNSTs) from benign peripheral nerve sheath tumors (BPNSTs). MATERIALS AND METHODS. A systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, and the gray literature from inception to December 2019 was performed. Original articles that involved at least 10 patients and that evaluated the accuracy of MRI for detecting MPNSTs were included. Two reviewers independently extracted clinical and radiologic data from included articles to calculate sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and accuracy. A meta-analysis was performed using a bivariate mixed-effects regression model. Risk of bias was evaluated using QUADAS-2. RESULTS. Fifteen studies involving 798 lesions (252 MPNSTs and 546 BPNSTs) were included in the analysis. Pooled and weighted sensitivity, specificity, and AUC values for MRI in detecting MPNSTs were 68% (95% CI, 52-80%), 93% (95% CI, 85-97%), and 0.89 (95% CI, 0.86-0.92) when using feature combination and 88% (95% CI, 74-95%), 94% (95% CI, 89-96%), and 0.97 (95% CI, 0.95-0.98) using diffusion restriction with or without feature combination. Subgroup analysis, such as patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) versus those without NF1, could not be performed because of insufficient data. Risk of bias was predominantly high or unclear for patient selection, mixed for index test, low for reference standard, and unclear for flow and timing. CONCLUSION. Combining features such as diffusion restriction optimizes the diagnostic accuracy of MRI for detecting MPNSTs. However, limitations in the literature, including variability and risk of bias, necessitate additional methodologically rigorous studies to allow subgroup analysis and further evaluate the combination of clinical and MRI features for MPNST diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Accuracy
  • Malignant
  • MRI
  • Nerve sheath tumor
  • Peripheral nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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