Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the renal sinus

Satheesh Krishna, Nicola Schieda, Trevor A. Flood, Alampady Krishna Shanbhogue, Subramaniyan Ramanathan, Evan Siegelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article presents methods to improve MR imaging approach of disorders of the renal sinus which are relatively uncommon and can be technically challenging. Multi-planar Single-shot T2-weighted (T2W) Fast Spin-Echo sequences are recommended to optimally assess anatomic relations of disease. Multi-planar 3D-T1W Gradient Recalled Echo imaging before and after Gadolinium administration depicts the presence and type of enhancement and relation to arterial, venous, and collecting system structures. To improve urographic phase MRI, concentrated Gadolinium in the collecting systems should be diluted. Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (DWI) should be performed before Gadolinium administration to minimize T2* effects. Renal sinus cysts are common but can occasionally be confused for dilated collecting system or calyceal diverticula, with the latter communicating with the collecting system and filling on urographic phase imaging. Vascular lesions (e.g., aneurysm, fistulas) may mimic cystic (or solid) lesions on non-enhanced MRI but can be suspected by noting similar signal intensity to the blood pool and diagnosis can be confirmed with MR angiogram/venogram. Multilocular cystic nephroma commonly extends to the renal sinus, however, to date are indistinguishable from cystic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Solid hilar tumors are most commonly RCC and urothelial cell carcinoma (UCC). Hilar RCC are heterogeneous, hypervascular with epicenter in the renal cortex compared to UCC which are centered in the collecting system, homogeneously hypovascular, and show profound restricted diffusion. Diagnosis of renal sinus invasion in RCC is critically important as it is the most common imaging cause of pre-operative under-staging of disease. Fat is a normal component of the renal sinus; however, amount of sinus fat correlates with cardiovascular disease and is also seen in lipomatosis. Fat-containing hilar lesions include lipomas, angiomyolipomas, and less commonly other tumors which engulf sinus fat. Mesenchymal hilar tumors are rare. MR imaging diagnosis is generally not possible, although anatomic relations should be described to guide diagnosis by percutaneous biopsy or surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3082-3100
Number of pages19
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Renal sinus
  • Staging
  • Urothelial cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


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