What Imaging Tests Are Used to Diagnose Soft Tissue Sarcoma?

Doctors use imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and PET scans to diagnose soft tissue sarcomas, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. However, doctors often perform a biopsy, which involves extracting a tissue sample, for a conclusive confirmation.

A magnetic resonance imaging test is effective for evaluating the size and location of a tumor and determining the types of tissue affected, according to the American Cancer Society. In the procedure, a computer interprets how a series of radio waves interact with a magnetic field, producing images of the body’s interior. Different types of tissue and disease produce fluctuations in the radio wave pattern, and technicians may administer a contrast dye to improve the clarity of the images.

A computed tomography scan is useful for examining soft tissue sarcoma in the chest or abdomen and determining whether tumorous growths have spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs, the American Cancer Society notes. A CT scan takes 360-degree X-rays of the body to produce detailed cross-sectional images, and the procedure may also require contrast dye. In some cases, doctors use a CT scan to guide a biopsy needle when collecting a tissue sample.

A traditional X-ray may help doctors determine whether tumors have spread to nearby bone and locate areas of calcified tissue within tumors, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.