Abdominal Imaging - Original Article

Ideal combination of MRI sequences for perianal fistula classification and the evaluation of additional findings for readers with varying levels of experience


  • Nalan Yıldırım
  • Gökhan Gökalp
  • Ersin Öztürk
  • Abdullah Zorluoğlu
  • Tuncay Yılmazlar
  • İlker Ercan
  • Gürsel Savcı

Received Date: 25.11.2010 Accepted Date: 12.01.2011 Diagn Interv Radiol 2012;18(1):11-19


The aim of our study was to assess the contribution of various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sequences in determining the type of perianal fistula and in obtaining critical information for surgical decisions, as well as to define the optimal combination of sequences for readers with varying levels of experience.


The study included 33 MRI examinations in 26 patients with suspected perianal fistula. The following sequences were obtained in both the coronal and axial planes: thin slice, high resolution T1-weighted (W) spin echo; T2-weighted turbo spin echo; short tau inversion recovery (STIR); and native and contrast enhanced T1-weighted gradient echo fast low-angle shot (FLASH) images with fat suppression (FS-CE-T1W-GRE). The examinations were interpreted by three radiologists with varying degrees of experience in two different sessions, and the inter-reader agreement was assessed. Seventeen of the patients underwent surgery. The agreement between the surgical findings and the MRI results were evaluated.


A statistically significant concordance between the fistula classification and surgery was achieved with the FS-CE-T1W-GRE sequence for Reader 1 (Cramer's V=0.701, P = 0,022) and Reader 3 (Cramer's V=0.716, P = 0,043). For Reader 2, statistically significant concordance between fistula classification and surgery was achieved with the FS-CE-T1W-GRE (Cramer's V=0.703, P = 0,011) and the T2W images (Cramer's V=0.648, P = 0,027). For all sequences, there was statistically significant agreement between readers for fistula classification, internal opening location, and the presence of sinus tracts, abscess, a horseshoe component, and inflammation.


For experienced readers, combining FS-CE-T1W-GRE images with either T2W or STIR images collected in both the coronal and axial planes was sufficient to make an assessment before deciding the surgical extent of the procedure.

Keywords: rectal fistula, magnetic resonance imaging