Magnetic Resonance Imaging Directed Surgical Decision Making for Lateral Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection in Rectal Cancer After Total Neoadjuvant Therapy (TNT)

Ann Surg. 2022 Oct 1;276(4):654-664. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005589. Epub 2022 Jul 15.


Objective: Lateral pelvic lymph node (LPLN) metastases are an important cause of preventable local failure in rectal cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate clinical and oncological outcomes following magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-directed surgical selection for lateral pelvic lymph node dissection (LPLND) after total neoadjuvant therapy (TNT).

Methods: A retrospective consecutive cohort analysis was performed of rectal cancer patients with enlarged LPLN on pretreatment MRI. Patients were categorized as LPLND or non-LPLND. The main outcomes were lateral local recurrence rate, perioperative and oncological outcomes and factors associated with decision making for LPLND.

Results: A total of 158 patients with enlarged pretreatment LPLN and treated with TNT were identified. Median follow-up was 20 months (interquartile range 10-32). After multidisciplinary review, 88 patients (56.0%) underwent LPLND. Mean age was 53 (SD±12) years, and 54 (34.2%) were female. Total operative time (509 vs 429 minutes; P =0.003) was greater in the LPLND group, but median blood loss ( P =0.70) or rates of major morbidity (19.3% vs 17.0%) did not differ. LPLNs were pathologically positive in 34.1%. The 3-year lateral local recurrence rates (3.4% vs 4.6%; P =0.85) did not differ between groups. Patients with LPLNs demonstrating pretreatment heterogeneity and irregular margin (odds ratio, 3.82; 95% confidence interval: 1.65-8.82) or with short-axis ≥5 mm post-TNT (odds ratio 2.69; 95% confidence interval: 1.19-6.08) were more likely to undergo LPLND.

Conclusions: For rectal cancer patients with evidence of LPLN metastasis, the appropriate selection of patients for LPLND can be facilitated by a multidisciplinary MRI-directed approach with no significant difference in perioperative or oncologic outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies