Tumefactive appearance of peripheral nerve involvement in hematologic malignancies: A new imaging association

Stepan Capek, Marie Noëlle Hébert-Blouin, Ross C. Puffer, Carlo Martinoli, Matthew A. Frick, Kimberly K. Amrami, Robert J. Spinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: In neurolymphomatosis (NL), the affected nerves are typically described to be enlarged and hyperintense on T2W MR sequences and to avidly enhance on gadolinium-enhanced T1WI. This pattern is highly non-specific. We recently became aware of a “tumefactive pattern” of NL, neuroleukemiosis (NLK) and neuroplasmacytoma (NPLC), which we believe is exclusive to hematologic diseases affecting peripheral nerves. Materials and methods: We defined a “tumefactive” appearance as complex, fusiform, hyperintense on T2WI, circumferential tumor masses encasing the involved peripheral nerves. The nerves appear to be infiltrated by the tumor. Both structures show varying levels of homogenous enhancement. We reviewed our series of 52 cases of NL in search of this pattern; two extra outside cases of NL, three cases of NLK, and one case of NPLC were added to the series. Results: We identified 20 tumefactive lesions in 18 patients (14 NL, three NLK, one NPLC). The brachial plexus (n = 7) was most commonly affected, followed by the sciatic nerve (n = 6) and lumbosacral plexus (n = 3). Four patients had involvement of other nerves. All were proven by biopsy: the diagnosis was high-grade lymphoma (n = 12), low-grade lymphoma (n = 3), acute leukemia (n = 2), and plasmacytoma (n = 1). Conclusions: We present a new imaging pattern of “tumefactive” neurolymphomatosis, neuroleukemiosis, or neuroplasmacytoma in a series of 18 cases. We believe this pattern is associated with hematologic diseases directly involving the peripheral nerves. Knowledge of this association can provide a clue to clinicians in establishing the correct diagnosis. Bearing in mind that tumefactive NL, NLK, and NPLC is a newly introduced imaging pattern, we still recommend to biopsy patients with suspicion of a malignancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1009
Number of pages9
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 28 2015


  • Imaging
  • MRI
  • Neuroleukemiosis
  • Neurolymphomatosis
  • Neuroplasmacytoma
  • Pattern
  • Plasmacytoma
  • Tumefactive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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