• Vol. 38 No. 3, 251–259
  • 15 March 2009

Cystic Neoplasms of the Pancreas: Current Diagnostic Modalities and Management



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Cystic neoplasm of the pancreas is a relatively uncommon condition covering a wide spectrum of pathology. The increasing incidence as a result of routine imaging tests in asymptomatic patients presents a diagnostic and therapeutic problem to the clinician. This paper discusses the role of the various investigative modalities in the management of cystic neoplasia of the pancreas.

Cystic neoplasms of the pancreas are relatively uncommon conditions of the pancreas covering a wide spectrum of different pathological entities.1 This condition accounts for less than 1% of all primary pancreatic tumours,2 but has become increasingly important in clinical practice because of the rising occurrence of its detection in asymptomatic patients as a result of various imaging tests done for other reasons.3 These tests would commonly be an abdominal ultrasound (US) or computed tomography (CT)4,5 for investigation of abdominal symptoms or for staging and follow-up of patients with an abdominal malignancy. As the spectrum of diseases classified as cystic neoplasms of the pancreas can range from benign to frank malignancy and most of these patients are detected asymptomatically, the condition presents a particular dilemma for the managing clinician. This difficult situation is further compounded by the frequent inability in establishing a definitive diagnosis preoperatively.6 The present review aims to put into perspective the current role and limitations of the various investigations (Table 1) for use in this condition.

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