Vertebral Hemangiomas: Prevalence, New Classification and Natural History. Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Based Retrospective Longitudinal Study

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Background and purpose: To determine the prevalence of vertebral hemangiomas (VHs), establish a new classification of VHs based on their MRI-signal pattern, and study their natural history. Methods: MRI of 1000 consecutive patients who underwent at least two MRI with an interval of at least 3 years. Growth rate and change of MRI-signal pattern during the follow-up period were the parameters included in studying the natural history of VHs. Results: The prevalence of VHs was 41%. VHs were classified as type I–IV with fat-rich VHs (type I), constituted 79% of all VHs. VHs were more common among females 43% versus males 39%, p =.22. The most affected vertebra was L1. Occurrence rates for cervical (1%), thoracic (7%), and lumbar spine (10%) differed significantly (p <.001). The prevalence of VHs increased with age regardless of gender or spinal part involved (p <.001). Only 26% of VHs changed their size and 4% changed their signal during the average follow-up of 7 years. All VHs were slowly growing lesions (average expected growth of <3 mm/10 years). No significant difference between growth rate of VHs type I (0.25 mm/year) and other types of VHs. None of the VHs that were initially reported as “metastases cannot be rule out” showed alarming change in signal or size. Conclusions: VH can be classified into four types based on their MRI-signal pattern. Regardless of their type, VHs are slowly growing lesions. The presence of typical morphological pattern should enable radiologists to confidently differentiate them from vertebral metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
JournalNeuroradiology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging

Free keywords

  • MRI
  • natural history
  • Vertebral hemangiomas

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