BACKGROUND:
T2-weighted MR imaging of soft tissue tumors of neural origin may show round lesions with a central hypointensity and a hyperintense rim resembling a target. We define the "target sign" as a mass consisting of a solitary target, or a multicompartmental mass in which the largest component consists of multiple targets.

OBJECTIVE:
The objective of this study was to determine whether the target sign can differentiate benign neurofibromas and their malignant counterparts, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Materials and methods. Preoperative T2-weighted MR images of 23 neurofibromas or malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors were retrospectively reviewed in 16 patients, aged 3 weeks to 20 years (median 15 years), without knowledge of the pathologic diagnosis. The presence or absence of a target sign was noted.

RESULTS:
The target sign was seen in all 12 neurofibromas and 1 of the 11 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Statistical analysis showed good differentiation of benign and malignant tumors using this sign (chi = 0.91).

CONCLUSION:
The target sign on T2-weighted MR imaging is helpful in differentiating neurofibromas from malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.




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