Purpose: To compare findings with magnetic resonance (MR) cholangiography with rapid acquisition with relaxation enhancement (RARE) and half-Fourier acquisition with single-shot turbo spin-echo (hereafter, half Fourier RARE) snapshot imaging techniques to those with endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC).
Materials and methods: Heavily T2-weighted thick-section (RARE) and thin-section (half-Fourier RARE) MR cholangiography were performed prospectively, on a 1.5-T imager, in the biliary tree of 61 consecutive patients before ERC. Findings at ERC were considered the standard of reference. The radiologist and endoscopist were blinded to each other's report. On- and off-site MR cholangiographic readings were performed to detect stones (n = 24), biliary dilatation (n = 34), or stenosis (n = 36).
Results: The sensitivity and specificity of MR cholangiography, respectively, calculated on a lesion-by-lesion basis, were 92.3% and 95.8% for cholangiolithiasis, 94.1% and 92.6% for duct dilatation, and 88.8% and 84.0% for stenosis. With snapshot MR cholangiography, on a patient-by-patient basis, differentiation between normal (n = 15) and abnormal (n = 46) results yielded a sensitivity of 92.4%, a specificity of 83.4%, and a positive predictive value of 95.6%. Pitfalls were caused by flow artifacts, compression by vessels, and low contrast between calculi and surrounding parenchyma.
Conclusion: Snapshot MR cholangiography allowed noninvasive, accurate detection of biliary stones, strictures, and dilatation similar to that with ERC. Discrepancies regarding low-grade dilatation and strictures had no clinical relevance at retrospective review.