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Original Research

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Purpose: Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is an established technique for the evaluation of intra- and extrahepatic bile ducts in patients with known or suspected hepatobiliary disease. However, the ideal acquisition and reconstruction plane for optimal bile duct evaluation with 3D technique has not been evaluated.The purpose of our study was to compare different acquisition and reconstruction planes of 3D MRCP for bile duct assessment.

Methods: 51 consecutive adult patients suspected to have pancreatico-biliary disease were examined with 3 Tesla (Philips 3 T Ingenia) system both a multi thin slice (3D) and a breath-hold (Single Shot) MRCP technique were performed. In the multi thin slice technique both source images and maximum intensity projections were examined. Two radiologists blinded to clinical information viewed both MRCP techniques independantly. Measure of correlation between each of the techniques and the inter observer agreement were computed. Coronal and axial MIP were reconstructed based on each dataset (resulting in two coronal and two axial MIP, respectively) and assessed the MIP, regarding visualization of bile ducts and image quality.Results were compared (Wilcoxon test). Intra- and interobserver variability were calculated (kappa-statistic).

Results: In case of coronal data acquisition, visualization of bile duct segments was significantly better on coronal reconstructed MIP images as compared to axial reconstructed MIP (p < 0.05). Regarding visualization, coronal MIP of the coronal acquisition were equal to coronal MIP of the axial acquisition (p > 0.05). Image quality of coronal and axial datasets did not differ significantly. Obstruction due to tumor was shown in 30% of patients, and calculi in the common bile duct were shown also in 30% of patients employing the 3D MRCP technique. Obstruction due to tumor and calculi were shown in 30% and 21% of patients, respectively, using the SS 2D MRCP technique. Sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing calculi in the common bile duct by 3D MRCP and SS MRCP were 100%, 100%, 70% and 100% respectively.

Conclusions: Although the 3D MRCP multislice technique is more time consuming than the SS MRCP breath-hold technique at a 3 Tesla (Philips 3 T Ingenia) system it is advisable to use thin slice 3D MRCP in order not to misdiagnose calculi in the common bile duct.The results of our study suggest that for visualization and evaluation of intra- and extrahepatic bile duct segments reconstructed images in coronal orientation are preferable.


MRCP, 2D, 3D, Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, Bile ducts, Common hepatic duct

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