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The Use of Neuroimaging to Guide the Histologic Diagnosis of Central Nervous System Lesions

Vincentelli, Cristina MD*; Hwang, Scott N. MD, PhD; Holder, Chad A. MD; Brat, Daniel J. MD, PhD*

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: March 2012 - Volume 19 - Issue 2 - p 97–107
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e318248b747
Review Articles

Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques, particularly in magnetic resonance imaging, have led to substantially improved spatial anatomic resolution such that subtle or small central nervous system lesions, which could go undetected on gross examination of brain sections, are now readily identified on imaging. Although neuroimaging is generally considered the surrogate of gross neuropathology, it is still not a substitute for tissue diagnosis. Rather, it can be a valuable tool for the surgical pathologist in the process of formulating a differential diagnosis based on location and imaging features, as well as in identifying radiologic/pathologic discordance, such as the possible undersampling of a heterogenous glioma, which could lead to underestimation of the tumor grade. The following review focuses on the application of neuroimaging techniques, mainly magnetic resonance imaging, to the histologic diagnosis of central nervous system lesions, and the correlation of imaging features of infiltrative gliomas with histologic findings pertinent to tumor grading. The use of advanced functional magnetic resonance methods, specifically diffusion-weighted imaging, perfusion-weighted imaging, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy is also discussed, as well as the common pitfalls in imaging interpretation.

*Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Radiology and Imaging Science, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Cristina Vincentelli, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University Hospital, G-167, 1364 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 (e-mail: cvince3@emory.edu).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.