Comparison of MR cholangiopancreatographic techniques with contrast-enhanced cholangiography in the evaluation of sclerosing cholangitis.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of our study was to compare MR cholangiopancreatography and contrast-enhanced cholangiography in patients with sclerosing cholangitis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty patients with sclerosing cholangitis were evaluated on MR cholangiopancreatography using the single-shot fast spin-echo technique at 1.5 T. A group of 19 healthy volunteers underwent MR cholangiopancreatography as controls. Thick-slab (2-cm sections) coronal oblique and thin-slab (5-mm sections) interleaved straight coronal MR images were obtained. All patients with sclerosing cholangitis had an MR cholangiopancreatogram within 12 months of a contrast-enhanced cholangiogram (mean, 3.8 months). Seventy-five percent of patients had an MR cholangiopancreatogram within 3 months of the contrast-enhanced cholangiogram. The MR cholangiopancreatograms and contrast-enhanced cholangiograms were reviewed independently in a random fashion by two radiologists who were unaware of clinical history for the degree of ductal visualization and for the presence and location of strictures of the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts. All discrepancies were resolved by a consensus, and the contrast-enhanced cholangiograms were regarded as the gold standard. Statistically significant data were calculated using the signed rank test (p < 0.01), and agreement analysis was calculated using Cohen's kappa. RESULTS: All findings on MR cholangiopancreatograms in healthy subjects were interpreted as normal, and all findings on MR cholangiopancreatograms in patients with sclerosing cholangitis were interpreted as abnormal. When compared with the control group, scans of patients with sclerosing cholangitis usually showed good visualization (>50%) of the intrasegmental (86% vs 9%) and peripheral (67% vs 0%) intrahepatic ducts on thick-slab MR cholangiopancreatography. Thick-slab MR cholangiopancreatography showed good visualization in more ducts than contrast cholangiography (84% vs 70%; p = 0.10) and showed more strictured ducts than contrast cholangiography (47% vs 36%; p = 0.22). When comparing those ducts with good visualization on both MR cholangiopancreatography and contrast cholangiography, we found that disagreement occurred regarding 32% of ducts. Most of the discrepancies (60%) resulted when a stricture was noted on MR cholangiopancreatography but not on contrast-enhanced cholangiography. Good interobserver agreement (kappa > 0.4) was noted for detecting strictures of the extrahepatic, left hepatic, left medial, and right posterior ducts, with the greatest agreement for extrahepatic ductal strictures (kappa = 0.8). CONCLUSION: Thick-slab MR cholangiopancreatography is the best technique for depicting normal and strictured bile ducts and allows the differentiation of healthy patients from patients with sclerosing cholangitis. Although endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was considered the standard, MR cholangiopancreatography was superior for intrahepatic biliary ductal visualization. Therefore, this technique is of value in the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with sclerosing cholangitis.
Vitellas, KM; Enns, RA; Keogan, MT; Freed, KS; Spritzer, CE; Baillie, J; Nelson, RC
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