Indexed on: 12 Oct '16Published on: 12 Oct '16Published in: Radiographics : a review publication of the Radiological Society of North America, Inc
Infection of the musculoskeletal system can be associated with high mortality and morbidity if not promptly and accurately diagnosed. These infections are generally diagnosed and managed clinically; however, clinical and laboratory findings sometimes lack sensitivity and specificity, and a definite diagnosis may not be possible. In uncertain situations, imaging is frequently performed to confirm the diagnosis, evaluate the extent of the disease, and aid in treatment planning. In particular, cross-sectional imaging, including computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, provides detailed anatomic information in the evaluation of soft tissues due to their inherent high spatial and contrast resolution. Imaging findings of soft-tissue infections can be nonspecific and can have different appearances depending on the depth and anatomic extent of tissue involvement. Although many imaging features of infectious disease can overlap with noninfectious processes, imaging can help establish the diagnosis when combined with the clinical history and laboratory findings. Radiologists should be familiar with the spectrum of imaging findings of soft-tissue infections to better aid the referring physician in managing these patients. The aim of this article is to review the spectrum of soft-tissue infections using a systematic anatomic compartment approach. We discuss the clinical features of soft-tissue infections, their imaging findings with emphasis on cross-sectional imaging, their potential mimics, and clinical management. (©)RSNA, 2016.