Neither computed tomography (CT) nor ultrasonography reliably distinguishes neoplastic from non-neoplastic pancreatic cysts. More invasive tests such as angiography or biopsy fail to differentiate these lesions in up to a third of patients. Because appropriate treatment differs greatly for these two classes of lesions, the clinician requires a more accurate means of confirming or excluding neoplasia. In an effort to refine the preoperative diagnosis of pancreatic cysts and evaluate the utility of endoscopic retrograde pancreatography (ERCP), we evaluated 11 patients with proven pancreatic neoplasia associated with cysts who underwent preoperative ERCP and CT scanning. Four patients had microcystic cystadenomas, two had a mucinous cystadenoma, one had a mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, and four had adenocarcinomas associated with cysts. CT identified a pancreatic cystic lesion in each patient. In all patients, ERCP showed either focal irregular narrowing, occlusion, or displacement of the main pancreatic duct at the corresponding location without the ductal changes of chronic pancreatitis. This helped to preoperatively differentiate these lesions from pseudocysts, hastening appropriate operation, obviating further testing and consultation, and aiding the intraoperative surgical strategy.
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