MR Imaging and CT of the Biliary Tract
RadioGraphics 2009; 29:1669-1688
Benjamin M.Yeh, MD, Peter S. Liu, MD, Jorge A. Soto, MD, Carlos A. Corvera, MD, Hero K. Hussain, MD
Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and computed tomography (CT) can be useful in the diagnosis of biliary disease, with both modalities allowing detailed evaluation of the biliary tract. Careful interrogation of the images is critical, regardless of modality. The identification of dilated bile ducts necessitates evaluation for strictures or filling defects, which is best performed wjth thin-section imaging. Smooth, concentric short-segment strictures favor a benign cause, whereas abrupt, eccentric long-segment strictures favor a malignancy. At MR imaging, extrabiliary entities such as crossing vessels or metallic clip artifact may mimic strictures and should not be mistaken for disease. A stone is the most common biliary filling defect and may occur in the absence of dilated ducts. Stones commonly have a lamellated, geometric shape and are found in a dependent portion of the duct. Identification of bile duct wall thickening raises concern for cholangitis or malignancy. Improved diagnosis of biliary disease can be achieved with a knowledge of the benefits and limitations of modern MR and CT cholangiographic techniques, including the use of biliary-excreted contrast material and of various postprocessing techniques. Familiarity with the radiologic appearances of the duct lumen, wall, and surrounding structures is also important for accurate image interpretation. The rapidly evolving technology for both MR imaging and CT of the biliary tract will continue to present radiologists with opportunities as well as challenges.