Background: To assess the efficacy of intraoperative ultrasound (IOUS) compared with liver-specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with colorectal liver metastases (CRLMs).
Methods: From January 2010 to December 2017, 721 patients underwent MRI as a part of preoperative workup within 1 month before hepatectomy and were considered for the study. Early intrahepatic recurrence (relapse at cut surface excluded) was assessed 6 months after the resection and was considered as residual disease undetected by IOUS and/or MRI. IOUS and MRI performance was compared on a patient-by-patient basis. Long-term results were also studied.
Results: A total of 2845 CRLMs were detected by MRI, and the median number of CRLMs per patient was 2 (1-31). Preoperative chemotherapy was administered in 489 patients (67.8%). In 177 patients, 379 new nodules were intraoperatively found and resected. Among 379 newly identified nodules, 317 were histologically proven CRLMs (11.1% of entire series). The median size of new CRLMs was 6 ± 2.5 mm. Relationships between intrahepatic vessels and tumors differed between IOUS and MRI in 128 patients (17.7%). The preoperative surgical plan was intraoperatively changed for 171 patients (23.7%). Overall, early intrahepatic recurrence occurred in 8.7% of cases. To assess the diagnostic performance, 24 (3.3%) recurrences at the cut surface were excluded; thus, 5.4% of early relapses were considered for analysis. The sensitivity of IOUS was superior to MRI (94.5% vs 75.1%), while the specificity was similar (95.7% vs 95.9%). Multivariate analysis at the hepatic dome or subglissonian and mucinous histology revealed predictive factors of metastases missing at MRI. The 5-year OS (52.1% vs 37.8%, p=0.006) and DF survival (45.1% vs 33%, p=0.002) were significantly worse among patients with new CRLMs than without.
Conclusions: IOUS improves staging in patients undergoing resection for CRLMs even in the era of liver-specific MRI. Intraoperative detection of new CRLMs negatively affects oncologic outcomes.