BACKGROUND: Imaging is an essential tool in the management of patients with Colorectal cancer (CRC) by helping evaluate number and sites of metastases, determine resectability, assess response to treatment, detect drug toxicities and recurrences. Although multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) is the first tool used for staging and patient's surveillance, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most reliable imaging modality that allows to assess liver metastases. Our purpose is to compare the diagnostic performance of gadoxetic acid-(Gd-EOB) enhanced liver MRI and contrast-enhanced MDCT in the detection of liver metastasis from colorectal cancer (mCRC).
METHODS: One hundred and twenty-eight patients with pathologically proven mCRC (512 liver metastases) underwent Gd-EOB MRI and MDCT imaging. An additional 46 patients without mCRC were included as control subjects. Three radiologists independently graded the presence of liver nodules on a five-point confidence scale. Sensitivity and specificity for the detection of metastases were calculated. Weighted к values were used to evaluate inter-reader agreement of the confidence scale regarding the presence of the lesion.
RESULTS: MRI detected 489 liver metastases and MDCT 384. In terms of per-lesion sensitivity in the detection of liver metastasis, all three readers had higher diagnostic sensitivity with Gd-EOB MRI than with MDCT (95.5% vs. 72% reader 1; 90% vs. 72% reader 2; 96% vs. 75% reader 3). Each reader showed a statistical significant difference (p < <.001 at Chi square test). MR imaging showed a higher performance than MDCT in per-patient detection sensitivity (100% vs. 74.2% [p < <.001] reader 1, 98% vs. 73% [p < <.001] reader 2, and 100% vs. 78% [p < <.001] reader 3). In the control group, MRI and MDCT showed similar per-patient specificity (100% vs. 98% [p = 0.31] reader 1, 100% vs. 100% [p = 0.92] reader 2, and 100% vs. 96% [p = 0.047] reader 3). Inter-reader agreement of lesion detection between the three radiologists was moderate to excellent (k range, 0.56-0.86) for Gd-EOB MRI and substantial to excellent for MDCT (k range, 0.75-0.8).
CONCLUSION: Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI performs significantly better in the detection of mCRC, than MDCT, particularly in patients treated with chemotherapy, in subcapsular lesions, and in peribiliary metastases.