Typical MR features and interpretation of perianal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease

Eur J Radiol. 2023 Oct:167:111046. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2023.111046. Epub 2023 Aug 15.


Perianal fistulas in Crohn's disease (CD) are a poor prognostic phenotype requiring a combination of medical and surgical management. Perianal fistulas in CD are characterized by more complex and multi-branched fistulas, association with skin tags, and frequent presence of proctitis. A comprehensive approach with clinical examination, endoscopic and MR assessment is required, and in particular, MR interpretation provides detailed information on the type of fistula with its internal component and activity, secondary tracts and extension, internal, external openings, associated abscess, and presence of proctitis. Structured reporting of these items would be recommended for further discussion and management planning both at initial diagnosis and for disease monitoring during treatment follow-up. Management strategy would be individualized for each patient, and control of luminal disease activity could be an important determinant in the selection of treatment options. In this review, we provide an overview of the MRI evaluation of perianal fistulas in CD with a proposed structured MR report.

Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging; Perianal Crohn’s disease; Perianal fistula; Perianal fistulizing Crohn’s disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crohn Disease* / complications
  • Crohn Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cutaneous Fistula*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Proctitis* / complications
  • Prognosis
  • Rectal Fistula* / diagnostic imaging
  • Rectal Fistula* / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome