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Bile duct disease: Prospective comparison of ERCP, CT, and fat suppression MRI


The authors compared computed tomography (CT) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), techniques commonly used to study the biliary tree, with pre- and post-Gd-DTPA breath-hold fast low angle shot (FLASH) and fat suppressed spin-echo in 28 consecutive patients with bile duct abnormalities detected on ERCP, including 11 patients with malignant disease and 17 patients with benign disease. ERCP, CT, and magnetic resonance (MR) images were prospectively interpreted in a blinded fashion and reviewed by consensus. ERCP characterized all cases of malignant disease by the presence of a narrowed bile duct lumen with irregular margins. CT and MRI detected all cases of malignant disease and characterized nine of 11 as malignant. In seven of these cases, CT and MRI showed thickening of extrahepatic bile duct walls >5 mm. MRI images showed intrahepatic-enhancing periportal tissue in four cases, which was not seen on CT images, and which was biopsyproven tumor extension. Benign disease was characterized on ERCP images by the demonstration of smooth tapered narrowings in 16 cases, whereas on CT and MR images it was characterized by mild to moderate dilatation of the intrahepatic bile ducts and wall thickness < 5 mm in 13 cases. Overall ERCP correctly characterized 27 cases as benign or malignant and CT and MRI both characterized 25. The results of this study show a trend that ERCP is superior to CT and MRI for characterizing bile duct disease.

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Correspondence to Richard C. Semelka M.D..

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Semelka, R.C., Shoenut, J.P., Kroeker, M.A. et al. Bile duct disease: Prospective comparison of ERCP, CT, and fat suppression MRI. Gastrointest Radiol 17, 347–352 (1992).

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Key words

  • Bile ducts, MR studies, neoplasms, diseases
  • Bile duct radiography