Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1101–1105 | Cite as

Predictive Factors for Surgery Among Patients with Pancreatic Cysts in the Absence of High-Risk Features for Malignancy

  • Susan Y. Quan
  • Brendan C. Visser
  • George A. Poultsides
  • Jeffrey A. Norton
  • Ann M. Chen
  • Subhas Banerjee
  • Shai Friedland
  • Walter G. Park
Original Article



Without a reliable biopsy technique for pancreatic cysts, consensus-based guidelines are used to guide surgical utilization. The primary objective of this study was to characterize the proportion of operations performed outside of these guidelines.


A 5-year retrospective review between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2012, was performed of consecutive patients seen at a single tertiary medical center for a pancreatic cyst. Manual chart review for relevant clinical variables and cyst characteristics was performed.


During this period, 148 patients underwent surgery, and of these, 23 (16 %) patients had no high-risk criteria by the 2006 Sendai criteria. None of these harbored high-grade dysplastic or cancerous lesions. A high cyst carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level (35 %), patient anxiety (26 %), and physician concern (22 %) were explicit reasons to proceed to surgery. An elevated cyst CEA level >192 ng/ml was the most significant predictor (OR 5.14 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.47–18.0) for surgery without high-risk criteria.


A high cyst CEA level was significantly associated with the decision to operate outside of consensus-based guidelines. The misuse of cyst CEA in the management of pancreatic cysts negatively impacts patient anxiety, increases physician uncertainty, and leads to surgery with minimal benefit.


Pancreatic cyst Biomarkers Clinical practice pattern 



W.G. Park is supported by the American College of Gastroenterology Junior Faculty Development Award.


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Y. Quan
    • 1
  • Brendan C. Visser
    • 2
  • George A. Poultsides
    • 2
  • Jeffrey A. Norton
    • 2
  • Ann M. Chen
    • 1
  • Subhas Banerjee
    • 1
  • Shai Friedland
    • 1
  • Walter G. Park
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MedicineStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Pancreas ClinicStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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