Membranous urethral length measurement on preoperative MRI to predict incontinence after radical prostatectomy: a literature review towards a proposal for measurement standardization.

To investigate the membranous urethral length (MUL) measurement and its interobserver agreement, and propose literature-based recommendations to standardize MUL measurement for increasing interobserver agreement. MUL measurements based on prostate MRI scans, for urinary incontinence risk assessment before radical prostatectomy (RP), may influence treatment decision-making in men with localised prostate cancer. Before implementation in clinical practise, MRI-based MUL measurements need standardization to improve observer agreement.

Online libraries were searched up to August 5, 2022, on MUL measurements. Two reviewers performed article selection and critical appraisal. Papers reporting on preoperative MUL measurements and urinary continence correlation were selected. Extracted information included measuring procedures, MRI sequences, population mean/median values, and observer agreement.

Fifty papers were included. Studies that specified the MRI sequence used T2-weighted images and used either coronal images (n = 13), sagittal images (n = 18), or both (n = 12) for MUL measurements. 'Prostatic apex' was the most common description of the proximal membranous urethra landmark and 'level/entry of the urethra into the penile bulb' was the most common description of the distal landmark. Population mean (median) MUL value range was 10.4-17.1 mm (7.3-17.3 mm), suggesting either population or measurement differences. Detailed measurement technique descriptions for reproducibility were lacking. Recommendations on MRI-based MUL measurement were formulated by using anatomical landmarks and detailed descriptions and illustrations.

In order to improve on measurement variability, a literature-based measuring method of the MUL was proposed, supported by several illustrative case studies, in an attempt to standardize MRI-based MUL measurements for appropriate urinary incontinence risk preoperatively.

Implementation of MUL measurements into clinical practise for personalized post-prostatectomy continence prediction is hampered by lack of standardization and suboptimal interobserver agreement. Our proposed standardized MUL measurement aims to facilitate standardization and to improve the interobserver agreement.

• Variable approaches for membranous urethral length measurement are being used, without detailed description and with substantial differences in length of the membranous urethra, hampering standardization. • Limited interobserver agreement for membranous urethral length measurement was observed in several studies, while preoperative incontinence risk assessment necessitates high interobserver agreement. • Literature-based recommendations are proposed to standardize MRI-based membranous urethral length measurement for increasing interobserver agreement and improving preoperative incontinence risk assessment, using anatomical landmarks on sagittal T2-weighted images.

European radiology. 2023 Sep 22 [Epub ahead of print]

Thierry N Boellaard, Margriet C van Dijk-de Haan, Stijn W T P J Heijmink, Corinne N Tillier, Hans Veerman, Laura S Mertens, Henk G van der Poel, Pim J van Leeuwen, Ivo G Schoots

Department of Radiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, the Netherlands., Department of Urology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands., Department of Radiology, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. .

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