FDG PET/CT and MRI Features of Pathologically Proven Schwannomas

Benjamin J. Dewey, Benjamin M. Howe, Robert J. Spinner, Geoffrey B. Johnson, Mark A. Nathan, Doris E. Wenger, Stephen M. Broski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose The aim of this study was to examine the MRI and FDG PET/CT imaging features of pathologically proven schwannomas. Patients and Methods This institutional review board-approved retrospective study examined biopsy-proven schwannomas that underwent FDG PET/CT and/or MRI at our institution between January 1, 2002, and April 1, 2018. PET/CT features analyzed included SUVmax, metabolic ratios, volumetric metabolic measures, presence of calcification, and pattern of FDG activity. MRI features included T1/T2 signal, enhancement pattern, margins, perilesional edema, presence of muscular denervation, and size. Results: Ninety-five biopsy-proven schwannomas were identified (40 with both PET and MRI, 35 with PET only, and 20 with MRI only), 46 females and 49 males, average age of 57.7 ± 15.3 years. The average largest dimension was 4.6 ± 2.7 cm, the average SUVmax was 5.4 ± 2.7, and lesion SUVmax/liver SUVmean was 2.2 ± 1.2. Eleven (15%) of 75 lesions had SUVmax greater than 8.1, 26/75 (35%) had SUVmax greater than 6.1, and 14/75 (19%) had lesion SUVmax/liver SUVmean greater than 3.0. On MRI, 29/53 (55%) demonstrated internal nonenhancing areas. Twenty-eight (70%) of 40 lesions with both MRI and PET demonstrated at least 1 imaging feature concerning for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (irregular margins, internal nonenhancement, perilesional edema, heterogeneous FDG uptake, or SUVmax >8.1). Lesions with heterogeneous FDG activity had higher SUVmax (6.5 ± 0.5 vs 4.7 ± 0.4, P = 0.0031) and more frequent internal nonenhancement on MRI (P = 0.0218). Conclusions: Schwannomas may be large, be intensely FDG avid, and demonstrate significant heterogeneity, features typically associated with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. A significant proportion exhibit FDG activity above cutoff levels previously thought useful in differentiating malignant from benign peripheral nerve sheath tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalClinical nuclear medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • MRI
  • PET/CT
  • peripheral nerve sheath tumor
  • schwannoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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