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Differential diagnosis of dumbbell lesions associated with spinal neural foraminal widening: imaging features

      Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reliably demonstrate typical features of schwannomas or neurofibromas in the vast majority of dumbbell lesions responsible for neural foraminal widening. However, a large variety of unusual lesions which are causes of neural foraminal widening can also be encountered in the spinal neural foramen. Radiologic findings can be helpful in differential diagnosis of lesions of spinal neural foramen including neoplastic lesions such as benign/malign peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNSTs), solitary bone plasmacytoma (SBP), chondroid chordoma, superior sulcus tumor, metastasis, and nonneoplastic lesions such as infectious process (tuberculosis, hydatid cyst), aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC), synovial cyst, traumatic pseudomeningocele, arachnoid cyst, vertebral artery tortuosity. In this article, we discuss CT and MRI findings of dumbbell lesions which are causes of neural foraminal widening.
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