Rectal imaging: part 1, High-resolution MRI of carcinoma of the rectum at 3 T

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Jul;199(1):W35-42. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.8134.


Objective: MRI is currently the imaging modality of choice for the detection, characterization, and staging of rectal cancer. A variety of examinations have been used for preoperative staging of rectal cancer, including digital rectal examination, endorectal (endoscopic) ultrasound, CT, and MRI. Endoscopic ultrasound is the imaging modality of choice for small and small superficial tumors. MRI is superior to CT for assessing invasion to adjacent organs and structures, especially low tumors that carry a high risk of recurrence.

Conclusion: High-resolution MRI is an accurate and sensitive imaging method delineating tumoral margins, mesorectal involvement, nodes, and distant metastasis. In this article, we will review the utility of rectal MRI in local staging, preoperative evaluation, and surgical planning. MRI at 3 T can accurately delineate the mesorectal fascia involvement, which is one of the main decision points in planning treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Rectum / pathology
  • Vascular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vascular Neoplasms / secondary


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide