MRCP has been used for more than 20 years as a non-invasive tool for imaging pancreatic ducts. With the addition of secretin, pancreatic secretions are increased leading to significantly improved visualization of the pancreatic ducts for detection of abnormalities, including pancreatic cancer. The gold standard for pancreatic duct imaging had been ERCP, an expensive and invasive procedure with complications such as pancreatitis (3-5%), bleeding (1-2%), perforation (1%), infection (1-2%) and death (1/250). More than a half-million ERCP procedures are performed annually in the US and as the role of ERCP diminishes for screening, it will further the need for approval of secretin for S-MRCP.
Secretin is a 27 amino acid long hormone which rapidly stimulates release of pancreatic secretions, thus improving visualization of the pancreatic ducts during imaging procedures. Secretin has also been tested in a variety of central nervous system conditions such as autism, though currently approved only for pancreatic function testing and imaging with ERCP. The currently marketed synthetic secretin, approved in 2004, has been on the FDA Drug Shortage List since 2012 and is not approved by the FDA or the EMEA for S-MRCP.