Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography: a novel approach to the evaluation of suspected pancreaticobiliary neoplasms

Ann Surg Oncol. 1997 Dec;4(8):634-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02303747.


Background: Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a new noninvasive diagnostic method for pancreaticobiliary (PB) imaging without endoscopy, sedation, or iodinated contrast. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of MRCP to depict pancreatic and biliary ductal anatomy compared to that of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and to evaluate the ability of MRCP to accurately diagnose PB neoplasms.

Methods: Twenty patients had MRCP, and 17 also had ERCP. All studies were read prospectively by experienced reviewers blinded to other imaging data. Pathologic diagnosis was made in all patients.

Results: Bile duct dilatation seen by ERCP in 14 of 17 patients was correctly identified by MRCP in all 14 patients, and normal ducts were correctly identified by MRCP in the other 3 patients. The pancreatic duct was visible on MRCP in the pancreatic head in 17 of 20 patients, the body in 17 of 20 patients, and the tail in 15 of 20 patients. At ERCP, pancreatic duct dilatation was present in 11 cases and was identified by MRCP in 10 of them. Eighteen of 20 patients had malignant PB neoplasms. MRCP indicated PB neoplasm in 19 patients. Seventeen of these 19 patients had histologically confirmed malignant neoplasms pathologically, whereas 2 had benign pathology (both chronic pancreatitis). Among the 17 patients who also had ERCP, MRCP and ERCP correctly agreed on a final diagnosis of malignant neoplasm in 14 cases. In the three cases in which MRCP and ERCP disagreed on a final diagnosis, MRCP was correct in one and incorrect in two.

Conclusions: MRCP can accurately and noninvasively delineate PB ductal anatomy and diagnose PB neoplasms comparably to ERCP. MRCP is an interesting new noninvasive method for evaluating patients with suspected PB neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bile Ducts / pathology
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Cholangiography / methods*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Ducts / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prospective Studies