Thursday, February 24, 2011
Vertebral body hemangiomas are the most common tumors of the spinal axis and in most circumstances are incidental findings. Most hemangiomas are diagnosed based on their characteristic imaging findings, though the diagnosis can be challenging in cases of atypical or aggressive hemangiomas. In such cases, the recognition of vertically oriented coarse bony trabeculae surrounded by fatty stroma, resulting in the "salt and pepper" appearance on axial images and a striated appearance on coronal or sagittal images, is the key to the correct diagnosis. Though rare, aggressive hemangiomas can be symptomatic and pathologic fractures can lead to myelopathy and cord compression. In such patients, MR accurately displays the extraosseous extension of the hemangioma and its effect upon the spinal canal and cord.