Pediatric MR cholangiopancreatography: principles, technique, and clinical applications

Radiographics. Nov-Dec 2008;28(7):1951-62. doi: 10.1148/rg.287085031.


High-quality magnetic resonance (MR) cholangiopancreatographic images are difficult to obtain in children due to the small caliber of the pediatric bile ducts and to motion artifacts. However, there has been ongoing improvement in image quality, thanks to better coil technology, increased speed of acquisition, refinement in respiratory compensation techniques, and newer sequences. Heavily T2-weighted fast spin-echo (FSE) and single-shot FSE MR imaging sequences with long echo times are used to image the biliary and pancreatic ducts. Secretin has been shown to improve the visualization of the pancreatic duct and pancreaticobiliary junction. Factors that affect image quality in pediatric MR cholangiopancreatography include sedation, negative oral contrast material, radiofrequency coil selection, respiratory compensation techniques, echo time, echo train length, section-slab thickness, planes of scanning, field of view, and number of signals acquired. However, giving proper attention to these factors and tailoring the study to the body size of the patient (which varies considerably) can lead to high-quality diagnostic MR cholangiopancreatographic images. Use of MR cholangiopancreatography in children is limited by the need for sedation or anesthesia, high cost, limited availability, and long scanning times. Nonetheless, this modality can be a viable alternative to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) in the evaluation of various entities such as choledochal cyst, recurrent pancreatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and a transplanted liver, and may obviate ERCP.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bile Duct Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Magnetic Resonance / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pediatrics / methods*