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Br J Radiol. 2012 Jul;85(1015):887-96. doi: 10.1259/bjr/21209407. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

CT and MR cholangiography: advantages and pitfalls in perioperative evaluation of biliary tree.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Kinki University Faculty of Medicine, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka, Japan.


Recent developments in imaging technology have enabled CT and MR cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) to provide minimally invasive alternatives to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography for the pre- and post-operative assessment of biliary disease. This article describes anatomical variants of the biliary tree with surgical significance, followed by comparison of CT and MR cholangiographies. Drip infusion cholangiography with CT (DIC-CT) enables high-resolution three-dimensional anatomical representation of very small bile ducts (e.g. aberrant branches, the caudate branch and the cystic duct), which are potential causes of surgical complications. The disadvantages of DIC-CT include the possibility of adverse reactions to biliary contrast media and insufficient depiction of bile ducts caused by liver dysfunction or obstructive jaundice. Conventional MRCP is a standard, non-invasive method for evaluating the biliary tree. MRCP provides useful information, especially regarding the extrahepatic bile ducts and dilated intrahepatic bile ducts. Gadolinium ethoxybenzyl diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid-enhanced MRCP may facilitate the evaluation of biliary structure and excretory function. Understanding the characteristics of each type of cholangiography is important to ensure sufficient perioperative evaluation of the biliary system.

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