Reference values of MRI measurements of the common bile duct and pancreatic duct in children

Kriti Gwal, Maria A. Bedoya, Neal Patel, Siri J. Rambhatla, Kassa Darge, Ram R. Sreedharan, Sudha A. Anupindi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging/cholangiopancreatography (MRI/MRCP) is now an essential imaging modality for the evaluation of biliary and pancreatic pathology in children, but there are no data depicting the normal diameters of the common bile duct (CBD) and pancreatic duct. Recognition of abnormal duct size is important and the increasing use of MRCP necessitates normal MRI measurements. Objective: To present normal MRI measurements for the common bile duct and pancreatic duct in children. Materials and methods: In this retrospective study we searched all children ages birth to 10 years in our MR urography (MRU) database from 2006 until 2013. We excluded children with a history of hepatobiliary or pancreatic surgery. We stratified 204 children into five age groups and retrospectively measured the CBD and the pancreatic duct on 2-D axial and 3-D coronal T2-weighted sequences. We performed statistical analysis, using logistic and linear regressions to detect the age association of the visibility and size of the duct measurements. We used non-parametric tests to detect gender and imaging plane differences. Results: Our study included 204 children, 106 (52%) boys and 98 (48%) girls, with a median age of 33 months (range 0–119 months). The children were distributed into five age groups. The common bile duct was visible in all children in all age groups. The pancreatic duct was significantly less visible in the youngest children, group 1 (54/67, 80.5%; P = 0.003) than in the oldest children, group 5 (22/22, 100%). In group 2 the pancreatic duct was seen in 19/21 (90.4%), in group 3 52/55 (94.5%), and in group 4 39/39 (100%). All duct measurements increased with age (P < 0.001; r-value > 0.423), and the incremental differences between ages were significant. The measurement variations between the axial and coronal planes were statistically significant (P < 0.001); however these differences were fractions of millimeters. For example, in group 1 the mean coronal measurement of the CBD was 2.1 mm and the axial measurement was 2.0 mm; the mean coronal measurement of the pancreatic duct was 0.9 mm and the axial measurement was 0.8 mm. Conclusion: Our study provides normative measurements for the common bile duct and pancreatic duct for children up to age 10 years. The upper limits of the CBD and pancreatic duct increase with age, and the values range 1.1–4.0 mm for the CBD and 0.6–1.9 mm for the pancreatic duct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1159
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 27 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bile duct
  • Children
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Measurements
  • Pancreatic duct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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