Gastrointestinal Imaging

Rectal Carcinoma: Thin-Section MR Imaging for Staging in 28 Patients

PURPOSE: To evaluate the accuracy of thin-section magnetic resonance (MR) imaging (in-plane resolution, 0.6 × 0.6 mm) in the preoperative assessment of the depth of extramural tumor infiltration, which is a major prognostic indicator in rectal cancer.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In a prospective study of 28 consecutive patients, preoperative MR imaging was performed. The tumor stage according to the TNM classification system and the measured depth of extramural tumor invasion in matched MR images and histopathologic slices were compared.

RESULTS: Preoperative MR imaging correctly indicated the histopathologic tumor stage in all 25 patients in whom comparisons were possible. The difference between the depth of extramural tumor measured on preoperative MR images and corresponding measurements on histopathologic slices of the resection specimen ranged from −5.0 mm to +5.5 mm (mean difference, +0.13 mm; 95% CI: −2.72, +2.98 mm), indicating good agreement. The mesorectal fascia, and the relation of the tumor to it, could be visualized in every case. In all five patients with involvement of the circumferential excision margins of resection specimens, extensive extramural invasion was identified on preoperative MR images.

CONCLUSION: Preoperative thin-section MR imaging accurately indicates the tumor stage of rectal cancer and depth of extramural tumor infiltration. It provides valuable information for identifying T3 tumors for preoperative adjuvant therapy in patients who are at high risk of failure of complete excision.

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Article History

Published in print: Apr 1999