MRI anatomy and pathology of the anal canal

David B. Erlichman, Devaraju Kanmaniraja, Mariya Kobi, Victoria Chernyak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The normal function of the anal sphincter complex is crucial for quality of life, as it is the mechanism by which fecal continence is maintained. Additionally, the anal sphincter complex is an integral part of the coordinated effort of defecation. As imaging plays an important role in assessment of pathologic conditions involving the anal region, understanding the normal anatomy of the anal sphincter complex is important for correct image interpretation and accurate diagnosis. This review discusses the anatomy and function of the anal sphincter complex, important technical considerations for MRI, and various inflammatory, infectious, and neoplastic processes, as well as pathologic structural conditions that affect the anal region. Level of Evidence: 5. Technical Efficacy Stage: 3. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2019;50:1018–1032.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1018-1032
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • GI tract
  • MRI
  • anal canal
  • sphincter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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