Disappearing colorectal liver metastases in the era of state-of-the-art triple-modality diagnostic imaging

Published:January 11, 2023DOI:



      Systemic therapy can result in disappearance of colorectal liver metastases in up to 40% of patients. This might be an overestimation caused by suboptimal imaging modalities. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of imaging modalities and the incidence, management and outcome of patients with disappearing liver metastases (DLMs).


      This was a retrospective study of consecutive patients treated for colorectal liver metastases at a high volume hepatobiliary centre between January 2013 and January 2015 after receiving induction or neoadjuvant systemic therapy. Main outcomes were use of imaging modalities, incidence, management and longterm outcome of patients with DLMs.


      Of 158 patients included, 32 (20%) had 110 DLMs. Most patients (88%) had initial diagnostic imaging with contrast enhanced-CT, primovist-MR and FDG-PET and 94% of patients with DLMs were restaged using primovist-MR. Patients with DLMs had significantly smaller metastases and the median initial size of DLMs was 10 mm (range 5–61). In the per lesion analysis, recurrence after “watch & wait” for DLMs occurred in 36%, while in 19 of 20 resected DLMs no viable tumour cells were found. Median overall (51 vs. 28 months, p < 0.05) and progression free survival (10 vs. 3 months, p = 0.003) were significantly longer for patients with DLMs.


      Even state-of-the-art imaging and restaging cannot solve problems associated with DLMs. Regrowth of these lesions occurs in approximately a third of the lesions. Patients with DLMs have better survival.
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