To evaluate the added value of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) in combination with T2 weighted imaging (T2WI) compared with T2WI alone or positron emission tomography (PET)/CT for detecting viable tumour after neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer.
50 consecutive patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (≥T3 or lymph node positive) who underwent neoadjuvant CRT and subsequent surgery were enrolled in this retrospective study. All patients underwent 3.0 T rectal MRI and PET/CT after completing CRT. For qualitative analysis, two radiologists independently reviewed T2WI alone and DWI with T2WI over a 1-month interval. One nuclear medicine physician reviewed PET/CT images using a five-point scale. Diagnostic accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for detecting viable tumour were assessed. For quantitative analysis, the apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) of the lesions were measured and compared between the viable tumour group and non-viable tumour groups.
For detecting viable tumours, DWI with T2WI improved diagnostic accuracies (Reviewer 1 detected 90%; Reviewer 2, 86%) over T2WI alone (Reviewer 1 detected 76%, p=0.5; Reviewer 2, 64%, p=0.013) or PET/CT (48%, p<0.001). The sensitivity of DWI with T2WI (Reviewer 1 detected 98%; Reviewer 2, 91%) was significantly higher than those of T2WI alone (Reviewer 1 detected 77%; Reviewer 2, 64%) or PET-CT (43%, p<0.05). Only for Reviewer 2 was the NPV of DWI with T2WI (43%) significantly different from that of PET/CT (17%, p<0.05). The specificities and PPVs of DWI with T2WI were not improved over those of T2WI alone or of PET/CT (both p>0.05). The mean ADC of the viable tumour group (0.93×10−3 mm2 sc−1) was significantly lower than that of the non-viable tumour group (1.55×10−3 mm2 sc−1, p<0.0001).
Adding DWI to T2WI is helpful for detecting viable tumours after neoadjuvant CRT compared with T2WI alone or PET/CT in patients with locally advanced rectal cancer.