Colorectal cancer: Parametric evaluation of morphological, functional and molecular tomographic imaging

Pier Paolo Mainenti, Arnaldo Stanzione, Salvatore Guarino, Valeria Romeo, Lorenzo Ugga, Federica Romano, Giovanni Storto, Simone Maurea, Arturo Brunetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer (CRC) represents one of the leading causes of tumor-related deaths worldwide. Among the various tools at physicians' disposal for the diagnostic management of the disease, tomographic imaging (e.g., CT, MRI, and hybrid PET imaging) is considered essential. The qualitative and subjective evaluation of tomographic images is the main approach used to obtain valuable clinical information, although this strategy suffers from both intrinsic and operator-dependent limitations. More recently, advanced imaging techniques have been developed with the aim of overcoming these issues. Such techniques, such as diffusion-weighted MRI and perfusion imaging, were designed for the "in vivo" evaluation of specific biological tissue features in order to describe them in terms of quantitative parameters, which could answer questions difficult to address with conventional imaging alone (e.g., questions related to tissue characterization and prognosis). Furthermore, it has been observed that a large amount of numerical and statistical information is buried inside tomographic images, resulting in their invisibility during conventional assessment. This information can be extracted and represented in terms of quantitative parameters through different processes (e.g., texture analysis). Numerous researchers have focused their work on the significance of these quantitative imaging parameters for the management of CRC patients. In this review, we aimed to focus on evidence reported in the academic literature regarding the application of parametric imaging to the diagnosis, staging and prognosis of CRC while discussing future perspectives and present limitations. While the transition from purely anatomical to quantitative tomographic imaging appears achievable for CRC diagnostics, some essential milestones, such as scanning and analysis standardization and the definition of robust cut-off values, must be achieved before quantitative tomographic imaging can be incorporated into daily clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5233-5256
Number of pages24
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 21 2019


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Computed tomography
  • Diffusion imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Parametric imaging
  • Perfusion imaging
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Texture analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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