CT and MR imaging of primary biliary cholangitis: a pictorial review.
Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a rare chronic autoimmune-mediated cholestatic liver disease involving medium and small bile ducts that can lead to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. To date, the pathogenesis of PBC remains elusive, and there is currently no curative medical treatment. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, as common technical tools that allow non-invasive monitoring of liver tissue in vivo, play crucial roles in the diagnosis, staging, and prognosis prediction in PBC by enabling assessment of abnormalities in liver morphology and parenchyma, irregular configuration of bile ducts, lymphadenopathy, portal hypertension, and complications of cirrhosis. Moreover, CT and MRI can be used to monitor the disease progression after treatment of PBC (e.g. the onset of cirrhotic decompensation or HCC) to guide the clinical decisions for liver transplantation. With the optimization of imaging technology, magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) offers additional information on liver stiffness, allows for the identification of early cirrhosis in PBC and provides a basis for predicting prognosis. Gadoxetic acid-enhanced MRI enables the assessment of liver function in patients with PBC. The purpose of this review is to detail and illustrate the definition, pathological basis, and clinical importance of CT and MRI features of PBC to help radiologists and clinicians enhance their understanding of PBC.Critical Relevance StatementCharacteristic CT and MR imaging manifestations of primary biliary cholangitis may reflect the course of the disease and provide information associated with histological grading and altered cellular function.Key points• Imaging has become highly useful for differentiating PBC from other diseases.• Key pathological alterations of PBC can be captured by CT and MRI.• Characteristic manifestations provide information associated with histological grade and cellular function.• Despite this, the CT or MRI features of PBC are not specific.
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