Author(s): Hennedige TP, Neo WT, Venkatesh SK
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Abstract Malignancies of the biliary tract include cholangiocarcinoma, gallbladder cancers and carcinoma of the ampulla of Vater. Biliary tract adenocarcinomas are the second most common primary hepatobiliary cancer. Due to their slow growing nature, non-specific and late symptomatology, these malignancies are often diagnosed in advanced stages with poor prognosis. Apart from incidental discovery of gall bladder carcinoma upon cholecystectomy, early stage biliary tract cancers are now detected with computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). Accurate characterization and staging of these indolent cancers will determine outcome as majority of the patients' are inoperable at the time of presentation. Ultrasound is useful for initial evaluation of the biliary tract and gallbladder masses and in determining the next suitable modality for further evaluation. Multimodality imaging plays an integral role in the management of the biliary tract malignancies. The imaging techniques most useful are MRI with MRCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and positron emission tomography (PET). In this review we will discuss epidemiology and the role of imaging in detection, characterization and management of the biliary tract malignancies under the three broad categories of cholangiocarcinomas (intra- and extrahepatic), gallbladder cancers and ampullary carcinomas.
This article was published in Cancer Imaging
and referenced in Journal of Hepatology and Gastrointestinal disorders