Role of Diffusion Weighted Imaging in Musculoskeletal Infections: Current Perspectives

Yogesh Kumar, Mohammad Khaleel, Ethan Boothe, Haitham Awdeh, Vibhor Wadhwa, Avneesh Chhabra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Abstract: Accurate diagnosis and prompt therapy of musculoskeletal infections are important prognostic factors. In most cases, clinical history, examination and laboratory findings help one make the diagnosis, and routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is useful to identify the extent of the disease process. However, in many situations, a routine MRI may not be specific enough especially if the patient cannot receive contrast intravenously, thereby delaying the appropriate treatment. Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) can help in many such situations by providing additional information, accurate characterization and defining the extent of the disease, so that prompt treatment can be initiated. In this article, we illustrate the imaging findings of the spectrum of musculoskeletal infections, emphasizing the role of DWI in this domain. Key Points: • Abscess in background cellulitis is detected on DWI. • Infectious tenosynovitis shows diffusion restriction as compared to mechanical tenosynovitis. • Pyomyositis with abscess can be differentiated from diabetic myonecrosis on DWI. • Intraosseous abscess is bright on DWI versus devitalized tissue, sequestrum and air. • DWI can be used to differentiate spine infection from simple Modic changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-423
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Abscess
  • DWI
  • Diffusion
  • Infection
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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