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Rectal Carcinoma

MRI is the modality of choice for initial staging of rectal carcinoma, providing assessment of lesion size, extension into perirectal fat, proximity to the mesorectal fascia, and lymph nodes. Additionally, MRI of the abdomen may be included to assess for liver metastases.

For individuals requiring radiation and/or chemotherapy before a surgical resection, a repeat MRI can help tailor the surgical approach, or assist in determining  whether a second-line chemo-radiotherapy may be beneficial.

After therapy, MRI is valuable in the setting of suspected recurrence.

Examples (click on images)

PET-MRI of rectal carcinoma.PET-MRI can provide accurate local tumor staging as well as assesment of distant disease


  1. Iafrate F, et al. Preoperative staging of rectal cancer with MR imaging: correlation with surgical and histopathologic findings. RadioGraphics 2006; 26:701-14. PubMed link
  2. Kaur H, et al. MR imaging for preoperative evaluation of primary rectal cancer: practical considerations. RadioGraphics 2012; 32:389-409. PubMed link
  3. Barbaro B, et al. Restaging locally advanced rectal cancer with MR imaging after chemoradiation therapy. RadioGraphics 2010; 30:699-716. PubMed link