Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a procedure that lets a radiologist see and assess specific organs in your belly (abdomen). A radiologist is a doctor specializing in x-ray and imaging tests. During an MRCP, your doctor can see and access your:

  • Bile duct (tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine).

  • Pancreatic duct (tube that carries juices made by the pancreas to the intestine).

  • Gallbladder (pear-shaped body organ in which bile is stored).

This procedure helps detect diseases, stones or possible cancers affecting these organs. A MRCP does not need a dye that is injected into the vein (contrast material). The scan does not require instruments, injections or drugs that help you sleep (anesthesia).

MRCP uses an imaging technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique uses magnetic fields, radio waves and a computer to produce a detailed picture of the inside of the body. No radiation is used in this procedure.

No treatment is done during the procedure.


  • Have nothing to eat or drink for about 4 hours before the procedure.

  • Metallic objects cannot be brought into the imaging room. Remove any jewelry, credit cards, hearing aids, pins, hairpins, metal zippers, watches, pens, pocketknives, removable dental implants, eyeglasses or other metallic items before entering the scanner area.

  • Inform your caregiver if you have any objects implanted in your body. This procedure can interfere with their functioning. The test cannot be done if you have the following:

  • Heart (cardiac) pacemaker.

  • Artificial heart valves (not all of them).

  • Inner ear (cochlear) implants.

  • Older blood vessel stents.

  • Metal clips used to repair a brain aneurysm (small out pouching that looks like a berry in the artery).

  • Permanent metal dental implants.

  • Artificial joints.

  • Before the MRCP scan, you may need a standard MRI of your abdomen.

  • You will need to lie on a table. You will then be wheeled inside the scanner. The scanner looks like a round tube.

  • A belt-like coil, which helps take clearer images, may be put around your waist.

  • If you feel that the table is hard or cold. You may request a blanket or pillow.

  • You may be given earplugs. The machine produces loud thumping and humming noises while working.

  • It is important to lie still during the scan.

  • You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan.

  • The technician that operates the machine will be in constant contact with you. They will be in a different room, but they can see you through a window.

  • Speakers inside the scanner let you to talk to staff.

  • If you have any problems during the procedure, there is a call bell to ring.

  • The scan does not cause pain.

  • If you feel distressed or closed in (claustrophobic), a soothing drug (sedative) may be offered.

  • There are no after-effects from the scan.


A normal result suggests that no stones, blockages, growths or other problems were found with the structures or organs discussed at the beginning of this document. This does not guarantee that no problems exist.


Your caregiver may recommend this procedure if he/she suspects:

  • A blockage or stone in the bile duct.

  • Cancer of the bile duct or pancreas.

  • Irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the gallbladder.

  • Other problems with the organs or ducts described above.


Not all test results are available during your visit. If your test results are not back during the visit, make an appointment with your caregiver to find out the results. Do not assume everything is normal if you have not heard from your caregiver or the medical facility. It is important for you to follow up on all of your test results.