PBC Foundation
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After four years of having the AMA but normal LFT's my consultant is finally arranging a MRCP scan for me! (Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreaticography) which is useful for the enhancement of the bile ducts and better imaging of the the biliary tract! He couldn't believe that I haven't had one so far... bearing in mind other symptoms I have like itching, fatigue, mottled hands ect..... It will see if there is beading in the liver! He has requested it as a matter of urgency so I should have it within a couple of months! I'm so relieved that I've finally found a consultant who's caring enough to actually do the scan.

It's annoying too because I seen him on Thursday, then on Friday woke up suffering a terrible referred pain into my right shoulder all day long and nothing would relieve it. It's wearing off now..... but it's kind of got me worried because I've had my gall bladder removed and haven't had this symptom before! not without my gb anyway!

Has anyone else had a MRCP scan? and if so, What's it like? Is it any good?

Kind regards all PBCers xxx

9 Replies

Hello skywalker.

I get a bit of shoulder pain that comes and goes, started the year prior to my daignose of PBC 2010. I never thought much of it as I was in a domestic job lifting and carrying whilst there for 4hrs over 5 days a week and reckoned I'd strained my shoulder as it is my writing hand.

Whether mine is with PBC or not, I don't know but I don't really take much notice these days.

I think you mean an ERCP? (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography). I've not had one but it is a sort of camera and at the same time a biopsy can be taken apparently. Used for people with liver conditions and also it can enable the doctor or radiologist doing the proecedure to check out the bile ducts to see if they are ok.

I have read on this site others who have had these so they'll know exactly about the experience of having one.

Good luck.


Hi Peridot

Have you heard of liver capsule pain? It has been suggested that the pain may be that!

My consultant definately said it was a MRCP scan! I'm waiting for the appointment so I will know more then!

The referred pain into my shoulder was like gall bladder pain but more severe and I've had my gall bladder removed, but on a good note it has tailed off now I'm pleased to say!

This scan that I'm having should show any beading in the liver that would suggest PBC damage. Bile duct damage!

There again, it may show that my liver is normal! I'm hoping it's the latter!

Any info about the MRCP scan would be helpful, Thanks


Thanks skywalker for the correction. Now that one is new to me! I have just had a snoop to see what one is, have to say it is some form of MRI but taken slightly differently apparently. You learn something new every day!

That means then a biopsy on the liver cannot be taken with one of these, that is when an ERCP is done.

I've read that you can have pain in the liver region with PBC (and other liver conditions) but I think that is possibly due to a nerve that passes by and goes up to the neck and shoulder region that feels it. It is called the phrenic nerve (I always forget its name). It seems that some patients who have a needle liver biopsy occasionally feel this brief sharp stab in their right shoulder when the procedure is performed due to this nerve.

So far I've only had an ultrasound and the consultant said it showed pretty good, all organs appeared normal but the LFT showed a bit of inflammation at the time. He said it appeared from the scan the bile ducts were looking ok at the time.

Here's a patient.co.uk website if you want to read about the MRCP.



Hi Peridot, My consultant told me that an ultra sound scan was not very good when it comes to looking at liver detail! Because I have had one of them too! So I feel lucky to be offered one (The cost) and everything! Thanks for the link.... and replying xxx


Hell again skywalker.

I had the ultrasound back when I was having abnormal LFTs in 2010. I had a blood test that was to rule out either bone or liver related. Actually I found the NHS pathway for abnormal LFTs and my GP followed the norm there. Had the AMA test beg Nov 2010 not shown high titre of them then the next step would have been biopsy.

I have found it varies from county to county here in England and what is known as the 'postcode lottery' as to what is offered by Health Trusts.

My sister is currently in hospital having suffered a brain haemorrhage last month and the hospital (in Preston) is the neurology for the Health Trust (also a Teaching Hospital).

I noticed there are various scanners over at that hospital near the Critical Care. I know in my own town the hospital where I went just as the MRI and a CAT scan, not sure if an MRI is the same one used for the MRCP.


Hello Skywalker, I had a MRCP back in August...

It's very much like a MRI Scan...Pain free - takes about 35/40 mins....

Good Luck!!!


Hi Shoda, did you have a liver contrast before the scan?


Hi, Yes I've had three...


I had a MRI & MRCP of the liver a month ago. The MRI was ok, but I had a big problem with the MRCP. You are instructed to inhale deeply, hold that breath for 30 seconds, then exahale, then immediately do this again & again, over & over, consecutively. So after 14 times of doing this, I was exhausted & my chest hurt, therefore, I could not continue. I had to come back the next morning to finish this test. I compare this to being in a pool, putting your head under water for 30 seconds, then surface for air, & immediately go back under for 30 seconds again, etc. etc. This will wear a person down quickly!


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