Predictors of abnormalities on magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography: is there a role when the biliary tree is normal on previous imaging?

Bhamini Vadhwana, John Graby, Martin Lewis, Anouchka Goldman, Antoni Sergot, Catherine Ramsey, Kevin J Monahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is limited evidence supporting the use of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) if the biliary tree is within normal limits on ultrasound scan (US) or computed tomography (CT). The aim of this study was to assess the role of MRCP in the absence of a dilated biliary system on index imaging.

Methods: A retrospective observational study of consecutive MRCP investigations (n=427) was performed between October 2010 and June 2013 at a single district general hospital. Data collected included patient demographics, clinical presentation, liver function tests (LFTs) and radiological presence of stones. Binary logistic regression and chi-square test were performed using SPSS v23.

Results: We included 358 cases, 65% female (n=231) and 35% male (n=127), with a mean age of 60 years. Of these, 63% presented with abdominal pain (n=225), with 20% having concurrent deranged LFTs (n=44) and 8% jaundice (n=18). Index imaging demonstrated a dilated biliary system >6 mm in 68% (n=245). Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) elevation was an independent positive predictor for an abnormal MRCP (P=0.003). Abnormal index imaging, ALP and clinical jaundice were all significantly associated with a positive MRCP (P<0.001, P=0.028, P=0.018).

Conclusions: It is efficacious to proceed to MRCP with abnormal findings on index imaging, clinical jaundice or elevated ALP. An MRCP scan should be strongly considered in the context of elevated ALP and normal US/CT biliary system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-198
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Gastroenterology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

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