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Radiographics. 1998 Jan-Feb;18(1):61-82; quiz 146.

The normal and pathologic ischiorectal fossa at CT and MR imaging.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.


A wide spectrum of disease processes involve the ischiorectal fossa, including congenital and developmental lesions; inflammatory, traumatic, and hemorrhagic conditions; primary tumors; and pathologic processes outside the ischiorectal fossa with secondary involvement. Both computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are useful in the definitive diagnosis of these pathologic conditions, with MR imaging being the modality of choice because of its superior contrast resolution and multiplanar capability. In Gartner duct cyst, both CT and MR imaging demonstrate a well-defined, round mass; in tailgut cyst, CT demonstrates a well-defined retrorectal mass with a solid or cystic appearance. MR imaging in particular plays a major role in the assessment of fistula in ano, infection, and hematoma. Lipoma and pelvic plexiform neurofibroma typically have low attenuation and high signal intensity at CT and MR imaging, respectively. Recurrent rectal tumor appears at both modalities as an irregular soft-tissue mass with or without central necrosis in the presacral space, perineum, or pelvic sidewall. Familiarity with the imaging features and differential diagnoses of various ischiorectal pathologic processes will facilitate prompt, accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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