MRCP Procedure

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a type of exam involving magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that produces diagnostic images of the hepatobiliary and pancreatic systems. These include pictures of the liver, gall bladder, bile ducts, pancreas, and pancreatic ducts. MRCP scans are noninvasive medical tests which help doctors to diagnose and treat medical conditions. The protocol is similar to an MRI since an MRI scanner is used for the process.

How MRCP Works

MRCP uses a strong magnetic field, radio frequencies, and computer systems to produce detailed images of organs, bones, and soft tissues. The images are either examined by doctors electronically or printed and copied. These images allow doctors to evaluate parts of the body to diagnose illness in patients. MRI scanning does not use x-ray radiation for the procedure.

Uses of MRCP Procedure

Doctors can use MRCP for various procedures in the medical industry. One of the main instances that MRCP can be used is to examine possible causes of a patient’s abdominal pain. Some of the usual problems that MRCP can be used for are diseases of the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas, and pancreatic duct. Often times the patients have tumors, stones, inflammation, or infection.

Prepare for MRCP

Since there are risks involved with MRCP, the radiologist must know of any serious health issues and surgeries that have been undergone. Allergies are a particular risk if a contrast agent is used since the iodine-based variety can cause allergic reactions. Patients will be asked if they have allergies to food or drugs and have histories of hay fever, hives, or asthma. Also, many patients with kidney disease cannot have contrast material.

MRCP Process

The MRCP procedure is often performed with the patient wearing a hospital gown to ensure there are no problems from the magnetic force involved. The patient is directed to avoid eating and drinking for several hours before the procedure. Before the examination, the patient is injected with a contrast material. A contrast material is a chemical agent administered to enhance visibility of the test results.

Patients are then positioned on a moveable examination table next to devices that transmit radio waves. If the doctors will be using a contrast material, an intravenous (IV) catheter is inserted into a vein in the patient’s arm and saline fluid is used to prevent blockage. When the patient is being scanned, imaging is done both before and after injection of the contrast material. The whole process usually takes anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.


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