Tumor consistency is a critical factor that influences operative strategy and patient counseling. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) describes the concentration of water within living tissues and as such, is hypothesized to predict aspects of their biomechanical behavior. In meningiomas, MRI signal intensity has been used to predict the consistency of the tumor and its histopathological subtype, though its predictive capacity is debated in the literature. We performed a systematic review of the PubMed database since 1990 concerning MRI appearance and tumor consistency to assess whether or not MRI can be used reliably to predict tumor firmness. The inclusion criteria were case series and clinical studies that described attempts to correlate preoperative MRI findings with tumor consistency. The relationship between the pre-operative imaging characteristics, intraoperative findings, and World Health Organization (WHO) histopathological subtype is described. While T2 signal intensity and MR elastography provide a useful predictive measure of tumor consistency, other techniques have not been validated. T1-weighted imaging was not found to offer any diagnostic or predictive value. A quantitative assessment of T2 signal intensity more reliably predicts consistency than inherently variable qualitative analyses. Preoperative knowledge of tumor firmness affords the neurosurgeon substantial benefit when planning surgical techniques. Based upon our review of the literature, we currently recommend the use of T2-weighted MRI for predicting consistency, which has been shown to correlate well with analysis of tumor histological subtype. Development of standard measures of tumor consistency, standard MRI quantification metrics, and further exploration of MRI technique may improve the predictive ability of neuroimaging for meningiomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-753
Number of pages9
JournalNeurosurgical Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Meningioma
  • Pathology
  • Tumor consistency


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