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Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2002 Apr;4(2):160-6.

The role of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography in patients with suspected biliary obstruction.

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  • 1Department of Abdominal and Interventional Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is an accepted and accurate procedure that combines the advantage of diagnosis of biliary obstruction with possible therapeutic endobiliary intervention. However, it is an operator-dependent and invasive procedure that is associated with complications and limitations. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a unique noninvasive technique for the diagnosis of biliary obstruction. It is well suited to provide the information required to plan the optimal therapeutic approach for these patients. MRCP has the potential to replace or at least precede ERCP as the first-line imaging effort in the evaluation of suspected biliary obstruction. Significant advantages and some notable limitations inherent to the modality dictate its judicious use in appropriate circumstances. The present article reviews the utility of MRCP in evaluation of biliary obstruction, with brief reference to its principles and techniques.

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