MRI enhancement patterns in 28 cases of clival chordomas

Ian T. Mark, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Carrie Y. Inwards, Matthew K. Ball, Jonathan M. Morris, Carrie M. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clival chordomas are classically thought of as locally aggressive tumors of the skull base and differentiate themselves from their benign counterparts by demonstrating moderate to marked contrast enhancement, reported as 95–100% in prior studies. The purpose of this review was to evaluate the imaging characteristics of lesions from a single institution classified as clival chordomas with an emphasis of highlighting lesions that do not follow the prevalent current description for chordoma. We searched our institutional databases for all patients with pathologically proven clival chordomas from 1997 to 2017 who had pre-operative imaging available. The images were evaluated for degree of contrast enhancement, MRI signal characteristics, osseous involvement, location, aggressiveness of appearance, and presence of calcifications. 28 cases were identified that had preoperative imaging available for review. Over half of the patients demonstrated either no/minimal (11/28, 39%) or mild enhancement (7/28, 25%). The remaining cases demonstrated moderate (4/28, 14%) and marked enhancement (6/28, 21%). The 4 lesions measuring less than 20 mm all had mild to minimal/no enhancement and lacked aggressive features on CT. Our experience finds that over half (64%) of clival chordomas will demonstrate mild or no enhancement at all. These findings suggest that the lack of MRI contrast enhancement should not be synonymous with a benign clival mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Chordoma
  • Clivus
  • MRI
  • Tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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