Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor-Induced Pancreatic Injury: Imaging Findings and Literature Review

  • Michele PorcuEmail author
  • Cinzia Solinas
  • Cristina Migali
  • Angelo Battaglia
  • Marina Schena
  • Lorenzo Mannelli
  • Alfredo Addeo
  • Karen Willard-Gallo
  • Luca Saba
Review Article


The immunotherapy revolution in cancer treatment involves a variety of specialists, not only oncologists, but also internal medicine physicians, endocrinologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, rheumatologists, and radiologists, introducing new scenarios and novel challenges in the diagnosis and management of a number of novel immune-related adverse events. Among these, immune checkpoint inhibitor-induced pancreatic injury has been described (occurring in up to 4% of patients) and has been reported to be responsible for visits to the emergency departments in up to 1.9% of patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. This side effect can be symptomatic or non-symptomatic, and can be associated with the development of long-term damage to the pancreas, requiring the involvement of different specialists, including radiologists and gastroenterologists in the multidisciplinary team that manages these patients. The aim of this narrative review is to provide a summary of the available literature related to immune checkpoint inhibitor-induced pancreatic injury including the epidemiology, the clinical findings, and the management algorithm for diagnosis with a detailed analysis of the differential diagnosis at imaging, and treatment. A more in-depth focus is dedicated to symptomatic acute pancreatitis with its peculiar findings at imaging (ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging).


Compliance with ethical standards


This research did not receive a specific grant from funding agency in the public, commercial, or non-profit sectors.

Conflict of interest

Alfredo Addeo has received research funding from Boehringer Ingelheim. He has played a consulting or advisory role in relationship with MSD, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Pfizer, Takaeda AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim. Michele Porcu, Cinzia Solinas, Cristina Migali, Angelo Battaglia, Marina Schena, Karen Willard-Gallo and Luca Saba declare that they have no conflicts of interest that might be relevant to the contents of this manuscript.

Patients consent for figure publication

All patients whose imaging pictures are present in this manuscript gave their consent for the publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyAzienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Di CagliariMonserrato, CagliariItaly
  2. 2.Azienda AUSL, Regional Hospital of AostaAostaItaly
  3. 3.AIFARomeItaly
  4. 4.IRCSS SDNNaplesItaly
  5. 5.Oncology DepartmentUniversity Hospital of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  6. 6.Molecular Immunology UnitInstitut Jules BordetBrusselsBelgium

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