Diagnosis of fistulae and sinus tracts in patients with Crohn disease: value of MR imaging

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1989 May;152(5):999-1003. doi: 10.2214/ajr.152.5.999.


To investigate the potential of MR imaging in the evaluation of sinus tracts or fistulae associated with Crohn disease, 17 patients with pelvic or abdominal fistulae or sinus tracts underwent MR imaging with multislice spin-echo techniques, 500/15 and 1600/22,80 (TR/TE). The presence of fistulae and/or sinus tracts was confirmed by contrast-enhanced CT (n = 17) and/or sonography (n = 8), sinography (n = 6), or barium studies (n = 4). In all but three cases the fistulae and extramucosal inflammatory abnormalities were shown by MR. T1-weighted images provided excellent delineation of the extension of the fistulae relative to sphincters and adjacent hollow viscera and showed inflammatory changes in fat planes. T2-weighted images showed fluid collections within the fistulae, localized fluid collections in extraintestinal tissues, and inflammatory changes within muscles. The supralevator and infralevator compartments were well defined on coronal images. Thus, the perirectal spread of fistulae and sinus tracts with respect to the levator ani could be demonstrated in all cases. Our results suggest that MR imaging is useful for the demonstration and evaluation of pelvic and abdominal sinus tracts or fistulae associated with Crohn disease.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Abscess / etiology
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / diagnosis*
  • Intestinal Fistula / etiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Rectal Fistula / diagnosis*
  • Rectal Fistula / etiology
  • Urinary Bladder Fistula / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Bladder Fistula / etiology