Rectal cancer: local staging and assessment of lymph node involvement with endoluminal US, CT, and MR imaging--a meta-analysis

Radiology. 2004 Sep;232(3):773-83. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2323031368. Epub 2004 Jul 23.


Purpose: To perform a meta-analysis to compare endoluminal ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in rectal cancer staging.

Materials and methods: Relevant articles published between 1985 and 2002 were included if more than 20 patients were studied, histopathologic findings were the reference standard, and data were presented for 2 x 2 tables; articles were excluded if data were reported elsewhere in more detail. Two reviewers independently extracted data on study characteristics and results. Bivariate random-effects approach was used to obtain summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity for invasion of muscularis propria, perirectal tissue, and adjacent organs and for lymph node involvement. Summary receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were fitted for perirectal tissue invasion and lymph node involvement.

Results: Ninety articles fulfilled all inclusion criteria. For muscularis propria invasion, US and MR imaging had similar sensitivities; specificity of US (86% [95% confidence interval [CI]: 80, 90]) was significantly higher than that of MR imaging (69% [95% CI: 52, 82]) (P =.02). For perirectal tissue invasion, sensitivity of US (90% [95% CI: 88, 92]) was significantly higher than that of CT (79% [95% CI: 74, 84]) (P <.001) and MR imaging (82% [95% CI: 74, 87]) (P =.003); specificities were comparable. For adjacent organ invasion and lymph node involvement, estimates for US, CT, and MR imaging were comparable. Summary ROC curve for US of perirectal tissue invasion showed better diagnostic accuracy than that of CT and MR imaging. Summary ROC curves for lymph node involvement showed no differences in accuracy.

Conclusion: For local invasion, endoluminal US was most accurate and can be helpful in screening patients for available therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Ultrasonography