Hepatocyte-specific contrast agent-enhanced magnetic resonance cholangiography: perioperative evaluation of the biliary tree

Abstract A large number of gadolinium chelates have recently been tested in clinical trials. Some of those have already been approved for clinical use in the United States and Europe. Thus, new diagnostic perspectives have been incorporated into magnetic resonance imaging studies. Among such gadolinium chelates are hepatobiliary-specific contrast agents (HSCAs), which, due to their property of being selectively taken up by hepatocytes and excreted by the biliary ducts, have been widely used for the detection and characterization of focal hepatic lesions. In comparison with conventional magnetic resonance cholangiography (MRC), HSCA-enhanced MRC provides additional information, with higher spatial resolution and better anatomic evaluation of a non-dilated biliary tree. A thorough anatomic assessment of the biliary tree is crucial in various hepatic surgical procedures, such as complex resection in patients with colorectal cancer and living-donor liver transplantation. However, the use of HSCA-enhanced MRC is still limited, because of a lack of data in the literature and the poor familiarity of radiologists regarding its main indications. This pictorial essay aims to demonstrate the use of HSCA-enhanced MRC, with particular emphasis on anatomical analysis of the biliary tree, clinical applications, and the most important imaging findings.