MR imaging characteristics of different pathologic subtypes of esophageal carcinoma

Zhaoqi Wang, Funing Chu, Bingmei Bai, Shuang Lu, Hongkai Zhang, Zhengyan Jia, Keke Zhao, Yudong Zhang, Yan Zheng, Qingxin Xia, Xu Li, Ihab R. Kamel, Hailiang Li, Jinrong Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To describe the specific MRI characteristics of different pathologic subtypes of esophageal carcinoma (EC) Methods: This prospective study included EC patients who underwent esophageal MRI and esophagectomy between April 2015 and October 2021. Pathomorphological characteristics of EC such as localized type (LT), ulcerative type (UT), protruding type (PT), and infiltrative type (IT) were assessed by two radiologists relying on the imaging characteristics of tumor, especially the specific imaging findings on the continuity of the mucosa overlying the tumor, the opposing mucosa, mucosa linear thickening, and transmural growth pattern. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated for the consistency between two readers. The associations of imaging characteristics with different pathologic subtypes were assessed using multilogistic regression model (MLR). Results: A total of 201 patients were identified on histopathology with a high inter-reader agreement (ICC = 0.991). LT showed intact mucosa overlying the tumor. IT showed transmural growth pattern extending from the mucosa to the adventitia and a “sandwich” appearance. The remaining normal mucosa on the opposing side was linear and nodular in UT. PT showed correlation with T1 staging and grade 1; IT showed correlation with T3 staging and grades 2–3. Four MLR models showed high predictive performance on the test set with AUCs of 0.94 (LT), 0.87 (PT), 0.96 (IT), and 0.97 (UT), respectively, and the predictors that contributed most to the models matched the four specific characteristics. Conclusions: Different pathologic subtypes of EC displayed specific MR imaging characteristics, which could help predict T staging and the degree of pathological differentiation. Clinical relevance statement: Different pathologic subtypes of esophageal carcinoma displayed specific MR imaging characteristics, which correspond to differences in the degree of differentiation, T staging, and sensitivity to radiotherapy, and could also be one of the predictive factors of cause-specific survival and local progression-free rates. Key Points: Different types of EC had different characteristics on MR images. A total of 91/95 (96%) LTEC showed intact mucosa over the tumor, while masses or nodules are specific to PTEC; 21/27 (78%) ITEC showed a “sandwich” sign; and 33/35 (60%) UTEC showed linear and nodular opposing mucosa. In the association of tumor type with degree of differentiation and T staging, PTEC was predominantly associated with T1 and grade 1, and ITEC was associated with T3 and grades 2–3, while LTEC and UECT were likewise primarily linked with T2–3 and grades 2–3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9233-9243
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Degree of differentiation
  • Esophageal neoplasms
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pathologic subtype
  • T staging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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