Magnetic resonance cholangiography in patients with biliary disease: its role in primary sclerosing cholangitis

J Hepatol. 2000 Oct;33(4):520-7. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0641.2000.033004520.x.


Background/aim: Magnetic resonance cholangiography (MRC) is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure whose role in the management of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the usefulness of MRC in the evaluation of the biliary tree in patients with suspected biliary disease, and in particular, PSC.

Methods: MRC and invasive cholangiography (ERCP or PTC) were both performed in 73 patients, (33 male, 40 female, mean age 56 years) with clinical and/or biochemical evidence of cholestasis. Images were interpreted by two radiologists unaware of the results of other studies.

Results: Forty-two patients (58%) had benign biliary disease, including 23 patients (32%) with PSC; 9 patients (12%) had malignant biliary disease; and 22 patients (30%) had a normal biliary tree. Diagnostic quality images were obtained in 73/73 (100%) of MRC, and in 70/73 (96%) of invasive cholangiography (68 ERCP's, 2 PTC's) procedures. Using ERCP/PTC findings as the reference standard, MRC had an accuracy greater than 90% in the diagnosis of normal bile ducts, biliary dilatation, biliary obstruction, bile duct stones, and PSC. Using the final diagnosis, MRC had an overall diagnostic accuracy of 90% in the detection of biliary disease compared to 97% for invasive cholangiography. Additional diagnostic/therapeutic interventions were performed during ERCP in 73% of patients with PSC and in 43% of patients without PSC (p=0.02).

Conclusions: MRC has excellent diagnostic accuracy in the presence of biliary disease. Because of its noninvasive nature, MRC may have advantages over invasive cholangiography when diagnosis is the major goal of the procedure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / surgery
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / therapy
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Biopsy
  • Cholangiography*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stents