Current state of the art imaging approaches for colorectal liver metastasis
One of the most common cancers worldwide, colorectal cancer (CRC) has been associated with significant morbidity and mortality and therefore represents an enormous burden to the health care system. Recent advances in CRC treatments have provided patients with primary and metastatic CRC a better long-term prognosis. The presence of synchronous or metachronous metastasis has been associated, however, with worse survival. The most common site of metastatic disease is the liver. A variety of treatment modalities aimed at targeting colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) has been demonstrated to improve the prognosis of these patients. Loco-regional approaches such as surgical resection and tumor ablation (operative and percutaneous) can provide patients with a chance at long-term disease control and even cure in select populations. Patient selection is important in defining the most suitable treatment option for CRLM in order to provide the best possible survival benefit while avoiding unnecessary interventions and adverse events. Medical imaging plays a crucial role in evaluating the characteristics of CRLMs and disease resectability. Size of tumors, proximity to adjacent anatomical structures, and volume of the unaffected liver are among the most important imaging parameters to determine the suitability of patients for surgical management or other appropriate treatment approaches. We herein provide a comprehensive overview of current-state-of-the-art imaging in the management of CRLM, including staging, treatment planning, response and survival assessment, and post-treatment surveillance. Computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are two most commonly used techniques, which can be used solely or in combination with functional imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). Providing up-to-date evidence on advantages and disadvantages of imaging modalities and tumor assessment criteria, the current review offers a practice guide to assist providers in choosing the most suitable imaging approach for patients with CRLM.