Foreign body granuloma is a tissue reaction for retained foreign bodies after skin-penetrating trauma. Detection of retained foreign bodies can be extremely difficult when the patients present with non-specific symptoms such as pain and/or swelling without recognizing a previous trauma. We report three patients of foreign body granulomas in the lower extremities with emphasis placed on their unique clinical and radiological features. The involved sites were the foot, posterior thigh, and posterior lower leg, with wooden splinters in two patients and a fragment of tile in one. Plain radiographs could not reveal the existence of foreign bodies. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed foreign bodies as low intensities on both T1- and T2-weighted images in two patients, and the surrounding reactive lesion as low to iso intensities on T1- and high intensities on T2-weighted images in all the patients. The peripheral areas of the lesion were strongly enhanced after gadolinium injection. Ultrasound sonography could clearly visualize a foreign body as an echogenic area with posterior acoustic shadowing in one patient. The surrounding ring-like reactive lesion is easily mistaken for a soft tissue neoplasm when foreign bodies are not identified. The key to arriving at the correct diagnosis is to clarify the previous trauma and to identify foreign bodies with low signal intensities on both T1- and T2-weighted images and/or the characteristic ring-like enhancement on MRI. It is also necessary to rule out a foreign body granuloma whenever we see patients with a soft tissue tumor in the extremities, irrespective of their previous trauma history.
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