Dedicated multi-detector CT of the esophagus: spectrum of diseases

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Multi-detector computed tomography (CT) offers new opportunities in the imaging of the gastrointestinal tract. Its ability to cover a large volume in a very short scan time, and in a single breath hold with thin collimation and isotropic voxels, allows the imaging of the entire esophagus with high-quality multiplanar reformation and 3D reconstruction. Proper distention of the esophagus and stomach (by oral administration of effervescent granules and water) and optimally timed administration of intravenous contrast material are required to detect and characterize disease. In contrast to endoscopy and double-contrast studies of the upper GI tract, CT provides information about both the esophageal wall and the extramural extent of disease. Preoperative staging of esophageal carcinoma appears to be the main indication for MDCT. In addition, MDCT allows detection of other esophageal malignancies, such as lymphoma and benign esophageal tumors, such as leiomyma. A diagnosis of rupture or fistula of the esophagus can be firmly established using MDCT. Furthermore, miscellaneous esophageal conditions, such as achalasia, esophagitis, diverticula, and varices, are incidental findings and can also be visualized with hydro-multi-detector CT. Multi-detector CT is a valuable tool for the evaluation of esophageal wall disease and serves as an adjunct to endoscopy.

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