Cystic Pancreatic Masses

Part of the Medical Radiology book series (MEDRAD)


Cystic neoplasms of the pancreas have been recognized for almost two centuries. In 1830, Becourt described the first cystic neoplasm of the pancreas as a tumor, “with the size of a child’s head and composed of very strong walls” (Verbesey and Munson in Surg Clin North America 90(2):411–425, 2010). Especially after 1990s, cystic lesions of the pancreas are being increasingly identified primarily due to wide-spread use of CT and other state-of-the-art imaging methods. It is now estimated that they can be detected in approximately 1.2% of abdominal CT scans with increasing prevalence with age and up to 24% of patients have pancreatic cystic lesions at autopsy (Spinelli et al. in Ann Surg 239(5):651–657, 2004; Kimura et al. in Int J Pancreatol 18(3):197–206, 1995). As they encompass a variety of processes of neoplastic, developmental and inflammatory in origin, their discovery prompts management concerns and their accurate characterization is necessary for appropriate patient triage. Many patients with a pancreatic cystic neoplasm (PCN) present with no relevant signs or symptoms and most of these lesions are incidentally diagnosed (Bassi et al. in World J Surg 27:319–323, 2003; Kerlin et al. in Surg Gynecol Obstet 165:475–478, 1987). The proportion of pancreatic resections that were performed for PCN has doubled in the last two decades (Fernandez-del Castillo and Warshaw in Adv Surg 34:237–248, 2000). Multi-detector row CT (MDCT) is the most commonly utilized imaging modality for pancreas imaging and has the capability to provide high resolution images of the pancreas and can depict even small pancreatic cysts. MDCT can also provide information about characterization of pancreatic cystic lesions, their follow-up and staging (Curry et al. in Am J Roentgenol 175(1):99–103, 2000). In this chapter, we will provide an overview of pancreatic cystic lesions and their clinical management and then describe the CT imaging features of common PCN.


Pancreatic Duct Cystic Lesion Main Pancreatic Duct Cystic Neoplasm Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chief of Abdominal Imaging and Body MRI Department of RadiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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