Novel Imaging Methods for Renal Mass Characterization: A Collaborative Review

Eduard Roussel, Umberto Capitanio, Alexander Kutikov, Egbert Oosterwijk, Ivan Pedrosa, Steven P. Rowe, Michael A. Gorin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Context: The incidental detection of localized renal masses has been rising steadily, but a significant proportion of these tumors are benign or indolent and, in most cases, do not require treatment. At the present time, a majority of patients with an incidentally detected renal tumor undergo treatment for the presumption of cancer, leading to a significant number of unnecessary surgical interventions that can result in complications including loss of renal function. Thus, there exists a clinical need for improved tools to aid in the pretreatment characterization of renal tumors to inform patient management. Objective: To systematically review the evidence on noninvasive, imaging-based tools for solid renal mass characterization. Evidence acquisition: The MEDLINE database was systematically searched for relevant studies on novel imaging techniques and interpretative tools for the characterization of solid renal masses, published in the past 10 yr. Evidence synthesis: Over the past decade, several novel imaging tools have offered promise for the improved characterization of indeterminate renal masses. Technologies of particular note include multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging of the kidney, molecular imaging with targeted radiopharmaceutical agents, and use of radiomics as well as artificial intelligence to enhance the interpretation of imaging studies. Among these, 99mTc-sestamibi single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (CT) for the identification of benign renal oncocytomas and hybrid oncocytic chromophobe tumors, and positron emission tomography/CT imaging with radiolabeled girentuximab for the identification of clear cell renal cell carcinoma, are likely to be closest to implementation in clinical practice. Conclusions: A number of novel imaging tools stand poised to aid in the noninvasive characterization of indeterminate renal masses. In the future, these tools may aid in patient management by providing a comprehensive virtual biopsy, complete with information on tumor histology, underlying molecular abnormalities, and ultimately disease prognosis. Patient summary: Not all renal tumors require treatment, as a significant proportion are either benign or have limited metastatic potential. Several innovative imaging tools have shown promise for their ability to improve the characterization of renal tumors and provide guidance in terms of patient management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-488
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Girentuximab
  • Kidney cancer
  • Machine learning
  • Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging
  • PET
  • Radiomics
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Tc-sestamibi
  • Virtual biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel Imaging Methods for Renal Mass Characterization: A Collaborative Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this