Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a relatively new technique for viewing the bile ducts, the pancreatic duct and the gallbladder. Usually no contrast medium has to be administered for MRCP, unlike some other techniques. MRCP uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed pictures.

Magnetic resonance imaging uses radiofrequency waves directed at the body to excite hydrogen atoms in the molecules of water in your body. This is done in a strong magnetic field, which causes the protons in the nuclei of your hydrogen atoms to line up, rather than being in random positions. These protons emit radio signals when they return to their natural alignment. The signals are used to build a computerised image that shows differences in body tissues based on the amount of water in them. This enables extremely clear and detailed pictures to be obtained of the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts.

MRCP is an outpatient procedure that involves lying very still in an MRI scanner for several minutes at a time. You do not feel anything while the scan takes place, although the machine is quite noisy. The entire experience should be over in less than 20 minutes.

Having MRCP does not expose you to any radiation. However, because MRCP uses a strong magnetic field, people with some types of metal objects in their body cannot have this test. Ask the centre performing the scan for advice if you have any of the following inside your body:

  • metal clips to close off an aneurysm (expanded blood vessel);
  • an artificial heart valve or cardiac pacemaker;
  • a joint replacement;
  • a cochlear (inner ear) implant; or
  • any other metal objects.

Sponsored links

 See your doctor for diagnosis  This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.  Proud partner of Healthdirect Quality Health Information

This web site is intended for Australian residents and is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Information and interactions contained in this Web site are for information purposes only and are not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Further, the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information available on this Web site cannot be guaranteed. Cirrus Media Pty Ltd, its affiliates and their respective servants and agents do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information made available via or through myDr whether arising from negligence or otherwise.
See Privacy Policy and Disclaimer.