Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent During Pelvic MRI: Contribution to Patient Management in Rectal Cancer

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BACKGROUND:Few publications exist regarding gadolinium-enhanced sequences in rectal MRI. None have evaluated its potential impact on patient management.OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to assess whether gadolinium-enhanced sequences, including dynamic contrast enhancement, change radiologic interpretation and clinical management of rectal cancer.DESIGN:This is a retrospective analysis of 100 rectal MRIs (50 baseline and 50 postneoadjuvant treatment), both without and with gadolinium-enhanced sequences. Treatment plans were rendered based on each radiologic interpretation for each case by a single experienced surgeon. Differences in radiologic interpretation and management were statistically analyzed.SETTINGS:The study was conducted at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.PATIENTS:Patients undergoing rectal MRI between 2011 and 2015 for baseline tumor staging and/or postneoadjuvant restaging were included.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Primary outcome measures were changes in radiologic tumor stage, tumor margins, and surgical planning with the use of gadolinium at baseline and postneoadjuvant time points.RESULTS:At baseline, tumor downstaging occurred in 8 (16%) of 50 and upstaging in 4 (8%) of 50 with gadolinium. Postneoadjuvant treatment, upstaging occurred in 1 (2%) of 50 from T2 to T3a. At baseline, mean distances from tumor to anorectal ring, anal verge, and mesorectal fascia were not statistically different with gadolinium. However, in 7 patients, differences could have resulted in treatment changes, accounted for by changes in relationships to anterior peritoneal reflection (n = 4), anorectal ring (n = 2), or anal verge (n = 1). Postneoadjuvant treatment, distances to anorectal ring and anal verge (in centimeters) were statistically smaller with gadolinium (p = 0.0017 and p = 0.0151) but could not have resulted in clinically significant treatment changes.LIMITATIONS:This study was limited by its retrospective design.CONCLUSIONS:The use of gadolinium at baseline MRI could have altered treatment in 24% of patients because of differences in tumor stage or position. Postneoadjuvant treatment, gadolinium resulted in statistically smaller distances to sphincters, which could influence surgical decision for sphincter-preserving rectal resection. See Video Abstract at

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