Abdominal Radiology

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 446–455 | Cite as

Contrast- vs. non-contrast enhanced MR data sets for characterization of perianal fistulas

  • Kamonwon Cattapan
  • Thitinan Chulroek
  • Hamed Kordbacheh
  • Dearada Wancharoenrung
  • Mukesh HarisinghaniEmail author



To evaluate the diagnostic efficacy between pre- and post-contrast MRI sequences in perianal fistulas using intra-operative findings as the gold standard.

Materials and methods

Retrospective analysis of 50 patients with a history of perianal fistula and MRI performed between January 2006 and January 2018 was performed. The inclusion criteria were patients who underwent MRI prior to surgery and had a detailed surgical report available. Pre- and post-contrast MR data sets were evaluated by two radiologists at two-week-intervals, assessed fistula type, internal/external opening, presence of abscess/secondary tracts, and confidence scores. The area under the curve (AUC) was used for comparison the diagnostic ability. The sensitivity and specificity were compared using the McNemar’s test.


The confidence scores in detecting perianal fistulas were significantly higher in the post-contrast MR data set (p < 0.003). The post-contrast MR data set had similar ability to classify perianal fistulas as combined T2-DWI and isolated T2 data sets in 49/50 cases. For internal/external opening, the post-contrast MR, combined T2-DWI, and isolated T2 data sets had 100% concordance with intra-operative reports. For perianal abscess, there was no significant difference in sensitivity or AUC value between the isolated T2 or combined T2-DWI data sets and post-contrast MR data set (p > 0.05). All MR data sets correctly identified secondary tracts in all 50 cases.


Although contrast-enhanced MR studies can improve a radiologist’s confidence, non-contrast MR studies had similar diagnostic efficacy in identifying perianal fistulas and their complications. Therefore, a non-contrast study may suffice in selected patients such as those with renal impairment.


Perianal fistula MRI Crohn’s disease Contrast agent 



The authors thank Glenn Shingledecker for manuscript preparation.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was not funded.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


Noting to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyPrince of Songkla UniversitySongkhlaThailand
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Faculty of MedicineChulalongkorn University and King Chulalongkorn Memorial HospitalBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Vajira HospitalNawamindradhiraj UniversityBangkokThailand

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