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Eur Radiol. 2003 Feb;13(2):273-6. Epub 2002 Aug 6.

Non-invasive quantification of pancreatic exocrine function using secretin-stimulated MRCP.

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Medical Imaging, Middlesex Hospital and Royal Free and University College London Medical School, Mortimer Street, London W1T 3AA, UK.


Our objective was to quantify water volume using magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) sequences and apply this to secretin-stimulated studies with the aim of quantifying pancreatic exocrine function. A commercially available single-shot MRCP sequence was used in conjunction with a body phased-array coil and a 1.5-T MR system. Signal intensity was measured in samples of water, pancreatic, duodenal juice, and secretin-stimulated pancreatic juice. A water phantom was made and MR calculated volumes compared with known water volumes within the phantom. Changes in small intestinal volume in response to secretin were measured in a group of 11 patients with no evidence of pancreatic disease. Changes in water volume were plotted over time. The pancreatic duct diameter before and after secretin was noted and filling defects were sought. All patients also underwent an axial breath-hold T1-weighted gradient-echo sequence and the pancreatic parenchyma was evaluated for size and signal intensity. There was no difference in the signal intensity of the different juice samples. There was excellent correlation between known and calculated MRCP volumes (chi(2)=0.99). All patients demonstrated normal duct morphology on MRCP and normal pancreatic parenchyma on T1-weighted imaging. The mean flow rate in the patient population was 8.1+/-2.5 ml/s over a median of 7 min (range 5-9 min). The MRCP sequence can be used to measure water volume. Sequential MRCP measurements following secretin permitted calculation of volume change and flow rate. This should prove useful as an indicator of pancreatic exocrine function.

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