The differentiation of malignant lymphomas from gliomas or malignant gliomas by conventional MRI can be difficult. The authors studied Gd-enhanced MR images to obtain a differential diagnosis between malignant lymphomas and gliomas without central necrosis or cystic changes and investigated the diagnostic value of single-voxel proton MR spectroscopy (1H-MRS) using different parameters, including lipid levels.
This was a retrospective study of patients with primary malignant CNS lymphoma (n = 17) and glioma (n = 122 [Grades I, II, III, and IV in 10, 30, 33, and 49 patients, respectively]) who were treated between 2007 and 2013. The authors focused on 15 patients with homogeneously enhanced primary malignant CNS lymphomas and 7 homogeneously enhanced gliomas. Images of all the included tumors were acquired with 1H-MRS at 3 T, and the diagnoses were histologically confirmed.
Using a short echo time 1H-MRS, large lipid peaks were observed in all 17 patients with a malignant lymphoma, in 39 patients (79.6%) with a Grade IV glioma, and in 10 patients (30.3%) with a Grade III glioma. A focus on homogeneously enhanced tumors revealed large lipid peaks in 15 malignant lymphomas that were free of central necrosis on Gd-enhanced T1-weighted images. Conversely, in the 7 homogeneously enhanced gliomas (glioblastoma and anaplastic astrocytoma, n = 2 each; anaplastic oligodendroglioma, diffuse astrocytoma, and pilomyxoid astrocytoma, n = 1 each), lipid peaks were small or absent.
Large lipid peaks on 1H-MRS images of tumors without central necrosis were characteristic of malignant lymphomas. Conversely, small or absent lipid peaks in intraaxial tumors without central necrosis were strongly suggestive of glioma.