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.

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.

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).

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

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