Background: Improvements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology have enabled the acquisition of three-dimensional MRI datasets in a single breath hold. We adopted this technique to make a three dimensional intraluminal and extraluminal assessment of the colon in three patients with various colonic disorders.
Methods: One patient was studied after having a double-contrast barium enema. Two patients had MRI scans after colonoscopy, which showed three colonic tumours in one and multiple polyps in the ascending colon of the other. The process of rectal filling with 1.5-2.0 L water mixed with 15-20 mL 0.5 mol/L gadolinium-diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (Gd-DTPA) was monitored with MR fluoroscopic sequence. Three-dimensional datasets of the contrast-filled colon were taken with patients in prone (before and after intravenous administration of 0.1 mmol/kg bodyweight Gd-DTPA) and supine positions. 64 sections with a voxel-resolution of 2.0 x 2.0 x 1.25 mm3-were taken during a 28 s breath hold. Three-dimensional maximum intensity projection, multiplanar reconstruction, and virtual colonoscopic images of the colon were created from these.
Findings: Analysis of the coronal source images in conjunction with multiplanar reconstructions revealed all relevant abnormalities, including diverticula, carcinomas, and polyps. Three dimensional maximum-intensity projections gave a morphological overview of the whole colon. Targeted projections, made up of a limited number of coronal source images, showed diverticula and smaller polyps more clearly. After patients were given intravenous contrast all colonic mass lesions were enhanced. Datasets obtained in prone patients gave the best intraluminal views of the colon. Virtual magnetic resonance colonoscopy showed colonic haustra as well as the ileocaecal valve, but did not show clearly the diverticula. All intraluminal mass lesions, on the other hand, were easy to see.
Interpretation: The potential of three-dimensional colonic MRI to provide accurate, minimally invasive, cost-effective polyp screening, as well as comprehensive colonic tumour staging, warrants further investigation.