Fibrolipomatous hamartoma: Pathognomonic on MR imaging

Edith M. Marom, Clyde A. Helms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. To assess the MR imaging characteristics, presenting symptoms, age and nerve distribution of fibrolipomatous hamartoma. Design. A computer search was performed of the term fibrolipomatous hamartoma through the musculoskeletal section MR imaging results at our institution from June 7, 1996 to January 21, 1998 followed by a search of the terms lipomatous hamartoma, median nerve, surrounding fat, increased fatty signal, coaxial, and neuroma. MR images and medical files were retrospectively reviewed by two experienced musculoskeletal radiologists for imaging characteristics, nerve and age distribution as well as for history of trauma. In addition three consultation cases from outside institutions were added for determination of image characteristics. Results. Ten fibrolipomatous hamartomas were identified: eight in the median nerve, one in the ulnar nerve and one in the sciatic nerve. Mean age was 32.3 years (range 4-75 pears, SD 21 years). Imaging characteristics were serpiginous low-intensity structures representing thickened nerve fascicles, surrounded by evenly distributed fat, high signal intensity on T1-weighted sequences and low signal intensity on T2-weighted sequences. The amount of fat varied; however, distribution in eight cases (80%) was predominantly between nerve fibers rather than surrounding them peripherally. All had a coaxial-cable-like appearance on axial planes and a spaghetti-like appearance on coronal planes that was not seen in any other type of median nerve abnormality imaged during the study period. Conclusion. The MR imaging characteristics of fibrolipomatous hamartoma are pathognomonic, obviating the need for biopsy for diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Nerves, MR
  • Tumor, MR
  • Wrist, MR


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