We hypothesize that magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is comparable to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographic (ERCP) as a diagnostic tool in patients with malignant biliary obstruction.
Eighteen patients with suspected pancreaticobiliary malignancy were evaluated by ERCP and MRCP in 8 months (March 1, 1996, to October 31, 1996). Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography was performed with a 1.5-T scanner using 4-mm slices. Images were obtained in a 14- to 28-second breath-hold. Images from MRCP were retrospectively evaluated by a radiologist for image quality, ductal dilation, level of obstruction, and overall diagnostic impression. Images from ERCP were retrospectively evaluated by a biliary endoscopist (L.H.S.) and served as the standard for calculating sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values. In addition, intraoperative findings were compared with MRCP results in all patients explored.
Diagnostic-quality MR images were obtained in 18 patients (100%). Diagnostic-quality endoscopic images were obtained in 16 (89%) of 18 attempted biliary cannulations and 11 (78%) of 14 attempted pancreatic cannulations. Magnetic resonance CP accurately delineated the level of extrahepatic biliary ductal obstruction in 13 (87%) of 15 patients. More important, MRCP provided valuable staging information in most patients. Findings from MRCP correlated with operative findings (size and location of tumor and mesenteric vascular involvement) in 8 (80%) of 10 patients who underwent surgery, while failing in 2 patients (20%) with carcinomatosis.
Magnetic resonance CP is a sensitive study for detecting the presence and level of biliary ductal obstruction in patients with cancer. The results are comparable to those of ERCP; however, MRCP provides additional data regarding extent of disease that is not available from ERCP alone.