Dilated biliary tract: evaluation with MR cholangiography with a T2-weighted contrast-enhanced fast sequence

Radiology. 1991 Dec;181(3):805-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.181.3.1947101.


A heavily T2-weighted gradient-echo sequence was used for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the biliary system in five healthy volunteers and 13 patients with obstructive jaundice. Images were obtained in the sagittal and coronal planes during sequential breath-hold intervals and were post-processed by using a maximum-intensity projection algorithm. The extrahepatic and intrahepatic bile ducts were well visualized in 11 patients. The level of obstruction and the grade of dilatation were depicted with MR cholangiography. However, the cause of obstruction could be determined with MR cholangiography in only eight cases. The part of the biliary system below the obstruction could not be visualized with MR cholangiography. In the volunteers, MR cholangiography could demonstrate the anatomy of the biliary tract in only two subjects. Possible causes for this phenomenon are the limited spatial resolution of MR imaging, partial volume effects, or flow within the bile ducts. MR cholangiography may be a useful adjunctive tool for noninvasive evaluation of patients with obstructive jaundice. However, further technical advances are necessary to improve image quality.

MeSH terms

  • Bile Ducts / anatomy & histology
  • Bile Ducts / pathology*
  • Cholangiography
  • Cholestasis / diagnosis*
  • Cholestasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Cholestasis / etiology
  • Dilatation, Pathologic
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods