Munson Health
Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography

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by Stahl RJ



Reasons for Test

MRCP is used to examine the:
  • Liver
  • Gall bladder
  • Bile ducts, which are tube-like structure that carry bile
  • Pancreas and pancreatic ducts, which are tube-like structures that carry digestive enzymes
Your doctor may order this test to look for:
Severe Pancreatitis
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What to Expect

Prior to Test

In the days leading up to the MRCP, you will be asked about:
  • Your medical history, including:
    • If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye
    • If you are pregnant—be sure to tell your doctor if you are or could be pregnant
  • Medical devices that you may have in your body. This includes pacemakers, ear implants, insulin pumps, neurostimulators, and shunts
  • Joint replacements, plates, or metal pins
  • Metal objects or fragments in your body—An x-ray may be done before the MRCP.
You may be asked to stop eating or drinking for about 2-4 hours before the MRCP.
Right before the test, you will be asked to remove any metal objects. This includes jewelry, hearing aids, and glasses.

Description of Test

You may be given a mild sedative to help you relax.
If a contrast dye is being used, a small IV needle will be inserted into your hand or arm.
You be asked to lie very still on a sliding table. The table will slide into a narrow, enclosed cylinder. The technician will give you directions through an intercom. Images will be taken of the organs and ducts in your abdomen. When the exam is done, you will slide out of the machine. If you have an IV needle, it will be removed.
In some cases, both an MRCP and an MRI scan of the rest of the abdomen will be done.

After Test

You will be asked to wait while the images are looked at. More images may be needed.
If were given a sedative, do not drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions.

How Long Will It Take?

The exam may take 15-45 minutes. The length will depend on whether you need an MRI scan also.

Will It Hurt?

The contrast dye injected can cause some discomfort during the injection.


National Library of Medicine




Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada



Diagnostic imaging studies: magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). The Pancreas Center website. Available at: . Accessed March 28, 2013.

Diagnosis magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website. Available at: . Accessed March 28, 2013..

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). website. Available at: . Updated June 5, 2012. Accessed March 28, 2013.

MRCP. website. Available at: . Updated February 24, 2010. Accessed March 28, 2013.


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