Pancreatitis: computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging

Eur Radiol. 2000;10(3):401-8. doi: 10.1007/s003300050066.


The value of CT in management of severe acute pancreatitis is well established. Some, but not all, experimental studies suggest a detrimental effect of intravenous iodinated contrast agents in acute pancreatitis, but although initial clinical data tends to support this, the positive advantages of enhanced CT outweigh the possible risks. Magnetic resonance imaging has been shown to be as effective as CT in demonstrating the presence and extent of pancreatic necrosis and fluid collections, and probably superior in indicating the suitability of such collections for percutaneous drainage. Image-guided intervention remains a key approach in the management of severely ill patients, and the indications, techniques and results of radiological intervention are reviewed herein. Both CT and MRI can be used to diagnose advanced chronic pancreatitis, with the recent addition of MRCP as a viable alternative to diagnostic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Both MRCP and CT/MR imaging of the pancreatic parenchyma still have limitations in the recognition of the earliest changes of chronic pancreatitis--for which ERCP and tests of pancreatic function remain more sensitive--but the clinical significance of these minor changes remains contentious.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*