Magnetic resonance imaging evaluation in neoadjuvant therapy of locally advanced rectal cancer: A systematic review

Roberta Fusco, Mario Petrillo, Vincenza Granata, Salvatore Filice, Mario Sansone, Orlando Catalano, Antonella Petrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The aim of the study was to present an update concerning several imaging modalities in diagnosis, staging and pre-surgery treatment response assessment in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Modalities include: Traditional morphological magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI such as dynamic contrast enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). A systematic review about the diagnostic accuracy in neoadjuvant therapy response assessment of MRI, DCE-MRI, DWI and Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) has been also reported. Several electronic databases were searched including PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. All the studies included in this review reported findings about therapy response assessment in LARC by means of MRI, DCE-MRI, DWI and PET/CT with details about diagnostic accuracy, true and false negatives, true and false positives. Forest plot and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves analysis were performed. Risk of bias and the applicability at study level were calculated. Twenty-five papers were identified. ROC curves analysis demonstrated that multimodal imaging integrating morphological and functional MRI features had the best accuracy both in term of sensitivity and specificity to evaluate preoperative therapy response in LARC. DCE-MRI following to PET/CT showed high diagnostic accuracy and their results are also more reliable than conventional MRI and DWI alone. Morphological MRI is the modality of choice for rectal cancer staging permitting a correct assessment of the disease extent, of the lymph node involvement, of the mesorectal fascia and of the sphincter complex for surgical planning. Multimodal imaging and functional DCE-MRI may also help in the assessment of treatment response allowing to guide the surgeon versus conservative strategies and/or tailored approach such as "wait and see" policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-262
Number of pages11
JournalRadiology and Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • evaluation
  • locally advanced rectal cancer
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • neoadjuvant therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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