Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is performed in the Radiology Department using MRI technology (magnets and radio waves) to produce computer images of the gallbladder, pancreas and bile ducts. A contrast dye is injected first into a vein to enhance the images. Patients are not required to undergo endoscopy preparation and they do not undergo sedation. MRCP is being used primarily in patients who may have failed or who are not good candidates for ERCP, in those who do not want to undergo an endoscopic procedure, and in individuals considered to be at low risk of having a pancreatic duct or bile duct disorder. While ERCP allows for therapeutic options with cholangioscopy, MRCP is a diagnostic tool only.
Virginia Mason also is involved in national clinical trials to determine the accuracy of MRCP in diagnosing disorders of the biliary tract and pancreas.