Dynamic MR Imaging of the Biliary System Using Hepatocyte-Specific Contrast Agents

Authors: Rajan T. Gupta1, Christopher M. Brady1, Joachim Lotz2, Daniel T. Boll1 and Elmar M. Merkle1

1 Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, DUMC 3808, Durham, NC 27710.
2 Department of Radiology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to illustrate how the properties of hepatocyte-specific MR contrast agents can be used in the dynamic evaluation of the biliary system.

CONCLUSION. Because of their dual route of excretion through the kidneys and the liver, gadolinium-based, hepatocyte-specific MR contrast agents can be used to evaluate the biliary tract as an off-label use. Images are obtained during the hepatocyte phase, which usually occurs within 20–40 minutes after injection depending on the specific contrast agent selected. Potential uses include showing variant biliary anatomy and choledocholithiasis. Evaluation for acute cholecystitis is possible by assessing for reflux of contrast material across the cystic duct. Additionally, these agents have value in both presurgical and postsurgical imaging for showing anatomy and complications. Finally, these agents are useful in the evaluation of choledochal cysts.