To assess the MR imaging features of spindle cell lipomas (SCL) and to compare these appearances directly with the histopathological findings.

Materials and methods

A retrospective review of our soft tissue tumor database was performed. This yielded 1,327 histologically proven lipomas, of which 25 were confirmed as being SCLs. Fourteen of the 25 patients had MR examinations available for review and only these patients were included in our study. Lesions were assessed at MR examination for the degree of internal fat signal content with grade 0 representing 0 % fat signal and grade 4 100 % fat signal. The degree of fat suppression and contrast-enhancement pattern were also recorded. The excision specimens were independently reviewed by a consultant histopathologist. The histology specimens were assessed for the amount of internal fat and non-adipose tissue and graded using the same scale applied for the imaging. Where core needle biopsy (CNB) was performed, the CNB specimens were also examined for positive features of SCL.


In our study, 93 % (13/14) of our patients were male and the average age was 58 years. 65 % (9/14) of the lesions presented in the upper back, shoulder, or neck. All lesions were subcutaneous. 35 % (5/14) of the SCLs demonstrated grade 3 (>75 %) or grade 4 (100 %) fat signal on MR examination. 35 % (5/14) of the lesions had grade 2 (25–75 %) fat signal and 29 % (4/14) of the lesions demonstrated grade 0 (0 %) or grade 1 (<25 %) fat signal. 43 % (6/14) of lesions demonstrated homogenous fat suppression, 28 % (4/14) showed focal areas of high internal signal, and 28 % (4/14) had diffuse internal high signal on fluid-sensitive fat-saturated sequences. 86 % (6/7) of the cases demonstrated septal/nodular enhancement. The diagnosis was evident on the CNB specimen in 100 % (9/9) cases. The histopathology fat content grade was in agreement with the imaging grade in 86 % (12/14) cases.


The internal signal pattern of SCL can range broadly, with low fat content lesions seen almost as commonly as intermediate and high fat content lesions. We also found that the fat:non-fat internal MR signal pattern of these lesions is accurately reflected in their composition at histology.