MRCP (Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography)
An MRCPis a study used alternatively for ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to visualise the the biliary tract including the bile duct, the pancreatic duct and the gall bladder for disease, tumors, biliary obstruction and stones.
Figure 1 demonstrates the anatomy of the biliary tract
Patient preparation required for MRCP
- Fasting for 4-6 hours. Food and liquid in the stomach can obscure anatomy and cause contraction of the biliary system that can make it difficult to obtain images of the bile or pancreatic ducts. Pineapple juice is given 10-20 minutes before the examination to help eliminate fluid in the small bowel. (Please tell us if you are diabetic then this will not be given)
- Oxygen by nasal canulae, 2-4 liters/min can be given if you are short of breath
- Safety questionnaires filled in.
- You will be changed into a hospital gown and all jewellery and other metal will have to be removed.
- The procedure will be explained to you and safety questions will be asked.
- You will be transferred onto the scan table that is wheeled inside the scanner, which looks like a round tube. A special coil which works like an antenna will be put around your waist just like a belt to make the images more clear.
- The MRI machine is a large, tube-shaped machine that creates a strong magnetic field around you. This magnetic field, along with a radio frequency, alters the hydrogen atoms’ natural alignment in the body.
- Computers then form two-dimensional images of your gallbladder, liver, bile and pancreatic ducts as well as surrounding tissue based on the activity of the hydrogen atoms. Several cross-sectional images are obtained to reveal even more details.
- MRI does not use radiation, as do x rays or CT scans.
- Respiratory bellows is also put around your chest or abdomen to allow the radiographer to see you breathing.
- Earmuffs will be given for the noise and an alarm bell in case you want to speak to the radiographer during the procedure. The machine produces loud thumping and humming noises during normal operation. There is an intercom system, but because it is so noisy we might not hear you while we are scanning.
- Oxygen will be offered through a nasal cannula.
- Most of the scans are done with you holding your breath and the radiographer will talk to you and tell you what you need to do before and after each sequence.
- The whole procedure will take about 30 minutes.
- In some cases you may have a contrast material given in a vein (usually in your arm) so that certain parts of your body will stand out in the pictures.
You’ll be asked to remain very still during the test.
A set of films or a CD with the images will go back to the hospital with you if you are an in-patient. A radiologist will look at the scan and a report will be sent to you referrer and GP. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.
After the procedure
There are no after-effects from the study and you can eat and drink as normal.