What is an MRCP?

An MRCP test is a specialized MRI exam that evaluates the hepatiobiliary and pancreatic systems, including the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and pancreatic duct. MRCP stands for Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography:
Cholangio = bile vessel
Pancreato = pancreas
Graphy = image

An MRCP scan looks for abnormalities like:

  • Obstructions or blockages caused from gallstones
  • Stones in the bile duct
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Tumor/mass
  • Infections such as cholangitis (infection of the bile duct)

An MRCP test can also be ordered to find the cause of pancreatitis or diagnose unexplained abdominal pain. Additionally, MRCP is a less invasive alternative to ERCP, a procedure that uses an endoscope combined with an IV injection of x-ray contrast dye and fluoroscopy (x-ray images).

Some people may experience claustrophobia during an MRI. At Suburban Imaging, our technologists are trained in techniques to alleviate anxiety and claustrophobia; oral sedation is also available at our locations. Watch this short video with five helpful tips for claustrophobia during MRI for more information.

Where can I schedule this exam?

An MRCP (Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography) exam can be scheduled at: 

How should I prepare for my exam?
  • MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to make detailed pictures; please review our MRI metal safety checklist.
  • Nothing to eat or drink 4 hours prior to your exam.
  • Please let us know if you have an insulin pump or glucose monitor. Our imaging machines may cause your device to malfunction, so it will need to be removed during your exam.
How long will my exam take?

An MRCP scan takes about twice as long as a regular MRI scan; 10 minutes for the MRCP imaging and about 30 minutes for abdominal imaging. Depending on the reason why the MRCP test was ordered, IV contrast may be given during the scan.

What happens after my exam?

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider who will then contact you to discuss the results and any follow-up care or treatment plans.

Biliary system

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