What is the role of spiral CT scanning in the workup of biliary obstruction?

Updated: Oct 16, 2019
  • Author: Jennifer Lynn Bonheur, MD; Chief Editor: Vinay Kumar Kapoor, MBBS, MS, FRCS, FAMS  more...
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Spiral (helical) CT scanning improves biliary tract imaging by providing several overlapping images in a shorter time than traditional CT scanning and by improving resolution by reducing the presence of respiratory artifacts.

CT cholangiography by the helical CT technique is used most often to image the biliary system and makes possible visualization of radiolucent stones and other biliary pathology. [9]

Limitations of helical CT cholangiography include reactions to the contrast, which are becoming less frequent. Also, as serum bilirubin levels increase, the ability to visualize the biliary tree diminishes and the ability to fully delineate tumors decreases. Patients are required to hold their breath while images are acquired.

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