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Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2007 Dec;18(6):421-9. doi: 10.1097/rmr.0b013e31816459e0.

State-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging of pancreatic cancer.

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Department of Radiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Technical advances of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance at 3.0 T, parallel imaging techniques, and multichannel receive coils of the abdomen, have promoted MRI of the pancreas. For adenocarcinoma, which is the most common malignant pancreatic tumor, helical CT has been most often used for detection and staging, but it has limitations in the detection of small cancers 2 cm in diameter or less (sensitivity, 63%). Moreover, it is not very accurate in determining nonresectability, because small liver metastases, peritoneal carcinomatosis, and subtle signs of vascular infiltration may be missed. At ultrahigh field at 3.0 T, gadolinium-enhanced MRI using volume-interpolated 3-dimensional gradient-recalled echo pulse sequences with near-isotropic voxels are very useful for detection of subtle abnormalities. Mangafodipir-enhanced MRI reveals a very high tumor-pancreas contrast, which helps to diagnose small cancers. Contrast-enhanced MRI is a problem-solving tool in case of equivocal CT: it helps to differentiate between cancer and focal pancreatitis. Neuroendocrine carcinoma may present with a spectrum of appearances at MRI, but the primary tumor and liver metastases are hypervascular in approximately 70%. In this article, pancreas imaging protocols for 1.5 and 3.0 T are explained. We present the imaging features of pancreatic cancer and the important questions in staging, which should be addressed by the radiologist.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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