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Click a tab below to learn how diffuse or localized TGCT is diagnosed.

DIFFUSE TGCT
(PVNS)
LOCALIZED TGCT
(GCT-TS)
Diagnosing diffuse TGCT

Diffuse TGCT tumors can be confused with conditions like:

  • Meniscal tear (an injury of the meniscus, a cartilage in the knee) or sports injuries
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Various types of benign and cancerous growths that affect the lining around the joints

To accurately confirm whether you actually have TGCT, your doctor can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a technique that produces computer images of internal body tissues. It can allow the doctor to look at your tumor before or during surgery.

Diffused TGCT MRI

To accurately confirm whether you actually have TGCT, your doctor can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a technique that produces computer images of internal body tissues. It can allow the doctor to look at your tumor before or during surgery.

Image of a knee (side view) produced by MRI that shows diffuse TGCT growing throughout the joint. The dark areas (marked with ✩) represent the presence of the tumor.

Adapted and reproduced with permission from Palmerini E et al.
Tenosynovial giant cell tumour/pigmented villonodular synovitis: outcome of 294 patients before the era of kinase inhibitors. European Journal of Cancer. 2015;51(2):210-217. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2014.11.001

Receiving expert care

Several experts may be involved in diagnosing TGCT. They need to rule out some conditions that may be confused with TGCT. These specialists may include those described in the following paragraphs.

Orthopedic surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons diagnose and treat disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. They are trained in managing joint problems. Patients diagnosed with TGCT or those who have symptoms of TGCT may seek out or be referred to orthopedic surgeons for their expert knowledge.

Pathologists

Pathologists examine tissues of the body and perform lab tests. In diagnosing TGCT, your doctor may take a sample of
your tumor (biopsy) during an imaging procedure. Pathologists will examine the cells, checking for the presence of
certain substances.

Physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists

Physical therapists help people strengthen muscles, relieve pain, and improve mobility. Rehabilitation specialists help people recover from serious injuries or diseases. If you have pain, swelling, or limited movement in your joints, you may seek the help of one of these experts.

Primary care physicians

When symptoms occur, many people visit their primary care physicians (PCPs) first. PCPs can assess your symptoms, review your history, and order routine tests to rule out causes for the symptoms besides TGCT. PCPs also may provide referrals
to specialists.

Radiologists

Radiologists are doctors who use X-rays, MRIs, and other medical imaging that helps in diagnosing and sometimes treating diseases. Medical imaging is an important tool for diagnosing TGCT before surgery; the findings can help guide treatment of TGCT. MRI is the best approach to diagnosing and planning for follow-up care.

Rheumatologists

Rheumatologists are doctors who diagnose and treat conditions that affect the joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Some of these conditions may include arthritis and other autoimmune diseases (your own immune system attacks your body by mistake). These conditions can cause the same symptoms as TGCT (like swelling in the joint), so rheumatologists may be able to rule them out.

Sports medicine specialists

Sports medicine specialists are doctors with training in conditions that affect many people: those who are active, are in sports, exercise, or have physically demanding jobs. They help prevent, treat, and manage a variety of injuries. Sports medicine specialists may be aware that TGCT can mimic symptoms of sports injuries, including pulled muscles and meniscal tears. They can assess if pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints is caused by TGCT instead of conditions related to sports that have the same symptoms.

Diagnosing localized TGCT

Localized TGCT tumors can be confused with some conditions like:

  • Localized injury
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Various types of benign and cancerous growths that affect the lining around the joints

To accurately confirm whether you actually have TGCT, your doctor can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a technique that produces computer images of internal body tissues. It can allow the doctor to look at your tumor before or during surgery.

Localized TGCT MRI

To accurately confirm whether you actually have TGCT, your doctor can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a technique that produces computer images of internal body tissues. It can allow the doctor to look at your tumor before or during surgery.

Image of an ankle (side view) produced by MRI that shows localized TGCT (marked with ✩).

Adapted and reproduced with permission from Illian C et al.
Tenosynovial giant cell tumors as accidental findings after episodes of distortion of the ankle: two case reports. Journal of Medical Case Reports. Published online December 15, 2009. 2009;3:9331. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-3-9331

Receiving expert care

Several experts may be involved in diagnosing TGCT. They need to rule out some conditions that may be confused with TGCT. These specialists may include those described in the following paragraphs.

Hand surgeons

Localized TGCT occurs most often in the hand. Patients with small, localized tumors in the hand may be referred to hand surgeons for their expert knowledge and skill set.

Orthopedic surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons diagnose and treat disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. They are trained in managing joint problems. Patients diagnosed with TGCT or those who have symptoms of TGCT may seek out or be referred to orthopedic surgeons for their expert knowledge.

Pathologists

Pathologists examine tissues of the body and perform lab tests. In diagnosing TGCT, your doctor may take a sample of
your tumor (biopsy) during an imaging procedure. Pathologists will examine the cells, checking for the presence of
certain substances.

Physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists

Physical therapists help people strengthen muscles, relieve pain, and improve mobility. Rehabilitation specialists help people recover from serious injuries or diseases. If you have pain, swelling, or limited movement in your joints, you may seek the help of one of these experts.

Primary care physicians

When symptoms occur, many people visit their primary care physicians (PCPs) first. PCPs can assess your symptoms, review your history, and order routine tests to rule out causes for the symptoms besides TGCT. PCPs also may provide referrals
to specialists.

Radiologists

Radiologists are doctors who use X-rays, MRIs, and other medical imaging that helps in diagnosing and sometimes treating diseases. Medical imaging is an important tool for diagnosing TGCT before surgery; the findings can help guide treatment of TGCT. MRI is the best approach to diagnosing and planning for follow-up care.

Rheumatologists

Rheumatologists are doctors who diagnose and treat conditions that affect the joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Some of these conditions may include arthritis and other autoimmune diseases (your own immune system attacks your body by mistake). These conditions can cause the same symptoms as TGCT (like swelling in the joint), so rheumatologists may be able to rule them out.

Sports medicine specialists

Sports medicine specialists are doctors with training in conditions that affect many people: those who are active, are in sports, exercise, or have physically demanding jobs. They help prevent, treat, and manage a variety of injuries. Sports medicine specialists may be aware that TGCT can mimic symptoms of sports injuries, including pulled muscles and meniscal tears. They can assess if pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints is caused by TGCT instead of conditions related to sports that have the same symptoms.