Accurate characterization of renal masses is essential for ensuring appropriate management. Low T2 signal intensity is a common feature of papillary renal cell carcinoma and fat-poor angiomyolipoma. Nonetheless, other types of renal cell carcinoma, oncocytoma, hemangioma, lymphoma, leiomyoma, and urothelial cell carcinoma also can show low signal intensities on T2-weighted imaging (T2WI). Histopathologic features that can lead to low T2 signal intensities in renal tumors include smooth muscle component, papillary architecture, a high nucleus-to-cytoplasm ratio, and hemorrhage. To establish an appropriate differential diagnosis for renal tumors on MRI, it is necessary to understand the relationship between the MR signal intensities and the histopathologic and morphologic features, in addition to contrast enhancement patterns and diffusion characteristics of the tumors.
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