Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a medical imaging technique that uses magnetic resonance imaging to visualize the biliary and pancreatic ducts in a non-invasive manner.[1] This procedure can be used to determine if gallstones are lodged in any of the ducts surrounding the gallbladder.

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
MRCP image showing stones in the distal common bile duct: (a) Gallbladder with stones, (b) Stones in bile duct, (c) Pancreatic duct, (d) Duodenum.
OPS-301 code3-843

It was introduced in 1991.[2]


MRCP makes use of heavily T2-weighted MRI pulse sequences.[3] These sequences show high signal in static or slow moving fluids within the gallbladder, biliary ducts and pancreatic duct, with low signal of surrounding tissue.

Comparison to other techniques

In the diagnosis of pancreatic disorders, MRCP is a much less invasive investigation when compared to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Although both techniques can image the ductal system in detail, MRCP also allows imaging of the surrounding parenchyma. In a study from 2008, 269 patients undergoing both ERCP and MRCP showed comparable results between the two techniques.[4]

Additional images


  1. Prasad, SR; D. Sahani; S. Saini (November 2001). "Clinical applications of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography". Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 33 (5): 362–6. doi:10.1097/00004836-200111000-00004. PMID 11606850.
  2. Albert L. Baert (13 February 2008). Encyclopedia of Diagnostic Imaging. Springer. pp. 123–. ISBN 978-3-540-35278-5. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  3. Griffin, Nyree; Charles-Edwards, Geoff; Grant, Lee Alexander (2011-09-28). "Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography: the ABC of MRCP". Insights into Imaging. 3 (1): 11–21. doi:10.1007/s13244-011-0129-9. ISSN 1869-4101. PMC 3292642. PMID 22695995.
  4. Hekimoglu K, Ustundag Y, Dusak A, et al. (August 2008). "MRCP vs. ERCP in the evaluation of biliary pathologies: review of current literature". Journal of Digestive Diseases. 9 (3): 162–9. doi:10.1111/j.1751-2980.2008.00339.x. PMID 18956595.

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