What is the role of MRI in the workup of head and neck mucosal melanomas?

Updated: May 07, 2020
  • Author: Neeraj N Mathur, MBBS, MS, DNB(ENT), MNAMS, FAMS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Because the appearance of melanoma on computed tomography (CT) scanning is not specific (homogeneously enhancing mass), some authors suggest use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for its diagnosis. Melanin has paramagnetic properties that can affect signal and produce a characteristic intensity pattern on MRI. The appearance is hyperintense on T1-weighted sequences and hypointense on T2-weighted sequences. [10] This is presumably related to chelated metal ions or free radicals known to exist in melanin. Although the intensity pattern on MRI is specific for mucosal melanoma when visible, it is not found in all tumors, especially amelanotic melanoma.


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