CT and MR imaging in the staging of colorectal carcinoma: Report of the Radiology Diagnostic Oncology Group II

Elias A. Zerhouni, Carolyn Rutter, Stanley R. Hamilton, Dennis M. Balfe, Alec J. Megibow, Isaac R. Francis, Albert A. Moss, Jay P. Heiken, Clare M.C. Tempany, Alex M. Aisen, Jeffrey C. Weinreb, Constantine Gatsonis, Barbara J. McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To prospectively evaluate the relative accuracy of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in the staging of colorectal carcinoma. MATERIALS AND METHODS: CT and MR studies were independently interpreted in a group of 478 patients with colorectal carcinoma in a study conducted from 1989 to 1993. The accuracy of each modality was assessed in a subset of 363 patients with primary tumors with respect to staging of local extent of tumor, status of local-regional lymph nodes, and the presence of liver metastases. RESULTS: In the staging of local extent of tumor, CT is more accurate than MR imaging, particularly in the definition of penetration of the muscularis propria by rectal cancer (74% vs 58%). Accuracies of CT and MR imaging were equivalent in depiction of transmural extent in colon cancers. CT and MR imaging exhibited accuracies of 62% and 64% in assessment of lymph node involvement with sensitivities of 48% and 22%, respectively. The accuracy of MR imaging and of CT (85% for each) are better for evaluation of liver metastases; lower sensitivities (62% and 70%, respectively) than specificities (97% and 94%, respectively) were demonstrated for both modalities. CONCLUSION: CT was more accurate than MR imaging in detection and characterization of transmural penetration of rectal tumors. Recent technologic advances in MR imaging may affect these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • Colon, CT
  • Colon, MR
  • Colon, neoplasms
  • Liver neoplasms, secondary
  • Lymphatic system, neoplasms
  • Rectum, CT
  • Rectum, MR
  • Rectum, neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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