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World J Radiol. Apr 28, 2011; 3(4): 92-104
Published online Apr 28, 2011. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v3.i4.92
Clinical significance of magnetic resonance imaging findings in rectal cancer
Charles F Bellows, Bernard Jaffe, Lorenzo Bacigalupo, Salvatore Pucciarelli, Guiseppe Gagliardi
Charles F Bellows, Bernard Jaffe, Guiseppe Gagliardi, Department of Surgery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States
Lorenzo Bacigalupo, Department of Radiology, Galliera Hospital, Genoa, 16128, Italy
Salvatore Pucciarelli, Department of Surgery, University of Padua, Padua, 35121, Italy
Author contributions: Bellows CF, Jaffe B and Gagliardi G wrote the manuscript; Bacigalupo L and Pucciarelli S contributed materials and wrote sections of the manuscript; Bellows CF and Gagliardi G conceived the idea of the manuscript and performed the literature search.
Correspondence to: Charles F Bellows, MD, Department of Surgery, Tulane University, 1430 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States.
Telephone: +1-504-9882307 Fax: +1-504-9884762
Received: February 22, 2011
Revised: April 6, 2011
Accepted: April 13, 2011
Published online: April 28, 2011

Staging of rectal cancer is essential to help guide clinicians to decide upon the correct type of surgery and determine whether or not neoadjuvant therapy is indicated. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is currently one of the most accurate modalities on which to base treatment decisions for patients with rectal cancer. MRI can accurately detect the mesorectal fascia, assess the invasion of the mesorectum or surrounding organs and predict the circumferential resection margin. Although nodal disease remains a difficult radiological diagnosis, new lymphographic agents and diffusion weighted imaging may allow identification of metastatic nodes by criteria other then size. In light of this, we have reviewed the literature on the accuracy of specific MRI findings for staging the local extent of primary rectal cancer. The aim of this review is to establish a correlation between MRI findings, prognosis, and available treatment options.

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging, Preoperative staging, Prognostic factors, Rectal cancer