Is magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography the new gold standard in biliary imaging?
Shanmugam V, Beattie GC, Yule SR, Reid W, Loudon MA
Departments of Surgery and Radiology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN.
The timing and technique of perioperative biliary imaging in relation to laparoscopic surgery remains controversial. This study assessed the predictive value of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) in the diagnosis of biliary pathology. Clinical, laboratory and investigational data were evaluated from 374 patients undergoing MRCP at two hospital sites over a 5-year period. MRCP findings were compared with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or operative findings and appropriate clinical endpoints. Complete data were available for 351 of the 374 patients (94%), of whom 232 (66%) were female. Median age was 64 years. The predominant presentation was abdominal pain (n=190). Features of pancreatitis were present in 59, cholangitis in 26 and jaundice in 109 patients. Ultrasound was the initial investigation in 312 (89%) (176-gallstone positive). Common duct dilatation was evident in 114 patients and ductal calculi in 31. ERCP was successful in 212/283 (75%) patients. Significant ERCP induced pancreatitis occurred in 12 (5.6%). Comparison between MRCP and ERCP was not possible in 85 due to failure of either technique. Nine patients underwent other investigations including intraoperative cholangiogram (IOC), percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC) and were included. Of the 221 patients with full comparative data available the MRCP showed a sensitivity of 97.98% and specificity of 84.4%. MRCP is highly sensitive and specific for choledocholithiasis and avoids the need for invasive imaging in most patients with suspected choledocholithiasis.
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