Colorectal liver metastases: radiopathological correlation

Insights Imaging. 2020 Aug 26;11(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s13244-020-00904-4.


With the development of chemotherapy regimens, targeted therapies, and hepatic surgery, the survival of patients with colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) has dramatically improved. Imaging plays a central role for the diagnosis, staging, and treatment allocation in these patients. To interpret CRLM on imaging, radiologists must be familiar with the main imaging features of untreated tumors as well as the modifications induced by systemic therapies, and their meaning in relation to pathological tumor response and tumor biology. CRLM have the same histological features as the primary tumor. Most are "non-otherwise specified" (NOS) adenocarcinomas. The mucinous tumor is the most common of the rare subtypes. In NOS tumors, imaging usually differentiates central areas of necrosis from peripheral proliferating tumors and desmoplastic reaction. Areas of mucin mixed with fibrosis are seen in mucinous subtypes to help differentiate the metastases from other tumors cysts or hemangiomas. After treatment, the viable tumor is gradually replaced by ischemic-like necrosis and fibrosis, and remnants cells are mainly located on the periphery of tumors. Imaging can help predict the degree of tumor response, but changes can be difficult to differentiate from the pretherapeutic appearance. When chemotherapy is interrupted or in case of resistance to treatment, a peripheral infiltrating halo of tumor growth may appear. The purpose of the article is to illustrate the significance of the imaging features of colorectal liver metastases during systemic therapy, using radiopathological correlations.

Keywords: Imaging; Metastasis; Radiopathological correlation.