Pancreatic-phase versus portal vein-phase helical CT of the pancreas: optimal temporal window for evaluation of pancreatic adenocarcinoma

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999 Mar;172(3):605-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.172.3.10063844.


Objective: Our objective was to use helical CT to compare the enhancement attenuation values of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, adjacent normal pancreas, and critical vascular structures during the pancreatic phase and portal vein phase.

Subjects and methods: Forty-one patients with pathologically proven pancreatic adenocarcinoma underwent dual-phase thin-section dynamic helical CT using a pancreatic-phase and portal vein-phase protocol. The scan delay after initiation of the contrast bolus was 40 sec for the pancreatic phase and 70 sec for the portal vein phase. Attenuation values after i.v. contrast administration were calculated during both phases of scanning for normal pancreas, pancreatic tumor, celiac axis, superior mesenteric artery, superior mesenteric vein, splenic vein, and portal vein. Quantitative values were assessed using regions of interest.

Results: Mean differences of enhancement between tumor and normal pancreas were significantly greater in the pancreatic phase (57 H) than the portal vein phase (35 H) (p = .0001). Enhancement values of all the critical vascular structures were also significantly greater in the pancreatic phase than the portal vein phase (p < .001).

Conclusion: With dynamic thin-section helical CT, pancreatic-phase scanning provides greater differences in contrast enhancement between normal pancreas and pancreatic tumor and between pancreatic tumors and surrounding critical vascular structures than does portal vein-phase scanning.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iohexol
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Portal Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Iohexol