Diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET/MRI versus pelvic MRI and thoracic and abdominal CT for detecting synchronous distant metastases in rectal cancer patients



We compared the diagnostic accuracy of detecting distant metastases for baseline rectal cancer staging between PET/MRI and conventional staging (CS).

Materials and methods

This prospective study from November 2016 to April 2018 included 101 rectal adenocarcinoma patients for primary staging. These patients underwent whole-body PET/MRI in addition to CS (pelvic MRI and thoracic and abdominal contrast-enhanced CT). Different readers analyzed CS and PET/MRI findings for primary tumor, nodal, and metastatic staging. The presence, number, and location of metastases were recorded according to the organ involved (non-regional lymph nodes (LNs), liver, lungs, or others). Lesions were defined as positive, negative, or indeterminate. The number of lesions per organ was limited to 10. The McNemar test was used to compare the accuracies.


PET/MRI exhibited a higher accuracy in detecting metastatic disease than CS in all patients (88.4% vs. 82.6%, p = 0.003) and in patients with extramural vascular invasion (EMVI) (88.9% vs. 85.5%, p = 0.013). The detection rate of PET/MRI was superior to that of CS for all lesions [84.1% vs. 68.9%, p = 0.001], as well as those in the liver (89.2% vs. 84.2%), non-regional LNs (90.0% vs. 36.7%), and lungs (76.4% vs. 66.9%). PET/MRI correctly classified 19/33 (57.5%) patients with indeterminate lesions on CS.


PET/MRI yields higher accuracy than CS for detecting distant synchronous metastases in the baseline staging of patients with rectal cancer and EMVI. PET/MRI exhibited a higher detection rate than CS for identifying non-regional LNs, hepatic lesions, and pulmonary lesions as well as correctly classifying patients with indeterminate lesions.

Trial registration


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Correspondence to Marcelo A. Queiroz.

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Queiroz, M.A., Ortega, C.D., Ferreira, F.R. et al. Diagnostic accuracy of FDG-PET/MRI versus pelvic MRI and thoracic and abdominal CT for detecting synchronous distant metastases in rectal cancer patients. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 48, 186–195 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00259-020-04911-x

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  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Neoplasm staging
  • Positron-emission tomography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Rectal neoplasms