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MRCP- Benefits and Risks


  • MRCP provides a noninvasive assessment of the biliary and pancreatic ductal system that may be used instead of conventional endoscopy (ERCP), which is an invasive procedure. Although ERCP may be indicated based on the MRCP results, it is important to consider the risks associated with ERCP, which include pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, perforation of pancreatic and bile ducts and bowel, and the risks for intravenous sedation required for ERCP.
  • MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • MRCP images the liver, pancreas and bile ducts in more detail than other imaging modalities.
  • MRI can help physicians evaluate both the structure and function of an organ.
  • MRI enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
  • The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT imaging.


  • If abnormality of the bile duct, such as stone or stricture, is identified, conventional ERCP may be needed for treatment whereas treatment is not possible with MRCP.
  • The MRI examination poses almost no risk to the average patient.
  • Some patients experience greater claustrophobia with an MRI exam.
  • If sedation is used, there are risks of excessive sedation. The technologist or nurse monitors your vital signs to minimize this risk.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. If you experience allergic symptoms, a radiologist or other physician will be available for immediate assistance.
  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is a serious, but rare complication believed to be caused by the injection of gadolinium contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function.