Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and MR cholangiopancreatography findings in cats with cholangitis and pancreatitis

Marolf AJ, Kraft SL, Dunphy TR, et al. 

Journal of feline medicine and surgery 2013;15:285-294.

Cholangiohepatitis/cholangitis is second only to hepatic lipidosis as the most common liver disease in cats and is often associated with concurrent pancreatitis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MR cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) have developed into an accurate, highly sensitive and specific imaging tool for the diagnosis of biliary and pancreatic duct disorders in humans. In this prospective case series, 10 cats with suspected cholangitis and/or pancreatitis were enrolled based on clinical history, physical examination and appropriate diagnostic test results. MRI and MRCP sequences with secretin stimulation of the cranial abdomen were performed, and sonography and laparoscopic biopsies for histologic diagnosis were obtained for comparison. MRI detected pancreatic abnormalities in cats suspected of pancreatitis, including T1 pre-contrast hypointense and T2 hyperintense pancreatic parenchyma and a dilated pancreatic duct. The MRI findings of the liver were non-specific. Nine of 10 cats had biliary abnormalities, including gall bladder wall thickening, gall bladder wall moderate contrast enhancement and/or gall bladder debris. Eight of 10 cats had histologic evidence of pancreatitis, as well as hepatitis or cholangitis, with one cat diagnosed with hepatic lymphoma. The advantages of MRI/MRCP over sonography of these cats included the striking pancreatic signal changes associated with pancreatitis and the ability to comprehensibly assess and measure the pancreas and hepatobiliary structures without operator dependence or interference from bowel gas. MRI/MRCP imaging of the feline abdomen may be beneficial in cases with equivocal ultrasound imaging findings.