MRI anatomy of the rectum: key concepts important for rectal cancer staging and treatment planning.


A good understanding of the MRI anatomy of the rectum and its surroundings is pivotal to ensure high-quality diagnostic evaluation and reporting of rectal cancer. With this pictorial review, we aim to provide an image-based overview of key anatomical concepts essential for treatment planning, response evaluation and post-operative assessment. These concepts include the cross-sectional anatomy of the rectal wall in relation to T-staging; differences in staging and treatment between anal and rectal cancer; landmarks used to define the upper and lower boundaries of the rectum; the anatomy of the pelvic floor and anal canal, the mesorectal fascia, peritoneum and peritoneal reflection; and guides to help discern different pelvic lymph node stations on MRI to properly stage regional and non-regional rectal lymph node metastases. Finally, this review will highlight key aspects of post-treatment anatomy, including the assessment of radiation-induced changes and the evaluation of the post-operative pelvis after different surgical resection and reconstruction techniques.

More about this publication

Insights into imaging
  • Volume 14
  • Issue nr. 1
  • Pages 13
  • Publication date 18-01-2023

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