Unusual imaging findings associated with germ cell tumors

Kirti Magudia, Christine O. Menias, Sanjeev Bhalla, Venkata S. Katabathina, Jeffrey W. Craig, Mark M. Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Germ cell tumors can manifest with unusual imaging characteristics suggestive of metastatic disease, autoimmune conditions, endocrine syndromes, and rare conditions such as fetus in fetu and ruptured dermoid cyst. Germ cell tumors, because they contain immature and mature elements, can differentiate into different tissue types. They can exhibit unusual imaging features or manifest in a syndromic fashion. The authors describe these features and assign them to one of the following categories: (a) unusual manifestations of metastatic disease (growing teratoma syndrome, choriocarcinoma syndrome, ossified metastases, and gliomatosis peritonei); (b) autoimmune manifestations (sarcoidlike reaction and paraneoplastic syndromes); (c) endocrine syndromes (sex hormone production, struma ovarii, and struma carcinoid); or (d) miscellaneous conditions (ruptured dermoid cyst, squamous cell carcinoma arising from a mature teratoma, Currarino triad, fetus in fetu, pseudo-Meigs syndrome, and pancreatitis). Rare conditions associated with germ cell tumors demonstrate characteristic imaging findings that can help lead to the appropriate diagnosis and management recommendations. When evaluating for potential metastatic disease, alternative benign diagnoses should be considered (eg, growing teratoma syndrome, ossified metastases, ruptured dermoid cyst, gliomatosis peritonei, and sarcoidlike reaction), which may impact management. Germ cell tumors may also lead to life-threatening complications such as extensive hemorrhage from choriocarcinoma metastases or the rupture of mature teratomas, cases in which timely diagnosis is crucial. Autoimmune and endocrine manifestations such as paraneoplastic encephalitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and hyperthyroidism may occur owing to the presence of germ cell tumors and can create a diagnostic dilemma for clinicians. Knowledge of the syndromic and unusual imaging findings associated with germ cell tumors helps guide appropriate management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1035
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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