Magnetization transfer imaging to assess tumour response after chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancer

Milou H. Martens, Doenja M. J. Lambregts, Nickolas Papanikolaou, Styliani Alefantinou, Monique Maas, Georgios C. Manikis, Kostantinos Marias, Robert G. Riedl, Geerard L. Beets, Regina G. H. Beets-Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose Single-slice magnetization transfer (MT) imaging has shown promising results for evaluating post-radiation fibrosis. The study aim was to evaluate the value of multislice MT imaging to assess tumour response after chemoradiotherapy by comparing magnetization transfer ratios (MTR) with histopathological tumour regression grade (TRG). Materials and Methods Thirty patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (cT3-4 and/or cN2) underwent routine restaging MRI 8 weeks post-chemoradiotherapy, including multislice MT-sequence, covering the entire tumour bed. Two independent readers delineated regions of interest on MTR maps, covering all potential remaining tumour and fibrotic areas. Mean MTR and histogram parameters (minimum, maximum, median, standard deviation, skewness, kurtosis, and 5-30-70-95th percentiles) were calculated. Reference standard was histological TRG1-2 (good response) and TRG3-5 (poor response). Results 24/30 patients were male; mean age was 67.7 +/- 10.8 years. Mean MTR rendered AUCs of 0.65 (reader1) and 0.87 (reader2) to differentiate between TRG1-2 versus TRG3-5. Best results were obtained for 95(th) percentile (AUC 0.75- 0.88). Interobserver agreement was moderate (ICC 0.50) for mean MTR and good (ICC 0.80) for 95(th) percentile. Conclusions MT imaging is a promising tool to assess tumour response post-chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancer. Particularly, 95(th) percentile results in AUCs up to 0.88 to discriminate a good tumour response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-397
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Magnetization transfer imaging
  • Rectal cancer
  • Response assessment
  • Tumour regression grade
  • Interobserver agreement

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