Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)


What is it?

A magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is an imaging procedure creating elaborate pictures of the bile ducts, gallbladder, liver, pancreas and pancreatic duct.

What is it for?

An MRCP can help detect gallstones, infection, inflammation or tumors. It is also used to help find the source of abdominal pain.

How to prepare

Since a magnet is used, people with specific types of medical device implants cannot be scanned. You will be asked if you have any kind of medical devices inside your body. These include:

  • Artificial heart valves
  • Artificial limbs or metal joints
  • Cochlear (ear) implants
  • Defibrillators, pacemakers
  • Infusion ports
  • Clips, pins, plates, screws, stents or surgical staples
  • Nerve stimulators

Sometimes, you may receive X-rays before an MRCP to detect the presence of any metal devices in your body.


  • There is little risk associated with an MRI as the strong magnetic field is not considered harmful
  • There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is used

What happens during?

You will lie down on a cot-like table that slides into a scanner. The procedure takes 15 to 40 minutes. You may be given an injection of contrast material (dye) through your veins. The contrast material is used to help see the area of the body scanned. Your body is scanned and the scan is read by a health care provider in an adjoining room observing the scan through a window. You will be able to communicate at all times with the health care provider using an intercom.

What happens after?

Typically, you can leave immediately after the MRCP and can resume normal activities. MRCP results are viewed by a radiologist who will send an analysis to your doctor.

Side effects

Generally, there are no side effects. Some people have reactions if contrast materials are used.