CT of primary cystic pancreatic neoplasms: can CT be used for patient triage and treatment?

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2000 Jul;175(1):99-103. doi: 10.2214/ajr.175.1.1750099.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether CT can be used to distinguish serous cystadenomas from mucinous cystadenomas or cystadenocarcinomas of the pancreas and play an enhanced role in patient triage and treatment.

Materials and methods: A blinded retrospective analysis of CT scans from 50 patients with pathologically proven primary cystic pancreatic neoplasms was performed independently by three radiologists. Using classic CT criteria as reported in the literature, each tumor was categorized as definitely serous, mucinous, or indeterminate. Tumor location, size, presence of calcification, and size of largest cyst were recorded. Data for each reviewer were analyzed independently. Consensus data were then subjected to multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: The ability of our reviewers to diagnose serous neoplasms ranged from 23% to 41%. Eight mucinous neoplasms were mistaken for serous tumors by two of the three reviewers. When consensus between at least two of the three reviewers was used for diagnosis, 27% of serous neoplasms were correctly diagnosed and all of the mucinous tumors were correctly identified as uncertain or mucinous, yielding the same clinical end point. For multivariate logistic regression analysis, a cyst smaller than 2 cm had a statistically significant association (p = 0.005) with serous tumors, and the presence of peripheral tumoral calcification had a statistically significant association (p = 0.01) with mucinous tumors.

Conclusion: There is significant variability in the CT appearance of serous and mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas, making CT an insensitive tool for differentiating these tumors. All tumors with peripheral calcifications were identified as mucinous neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cystadenocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cystadenoma, Mucinous / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Triage*