Endoscopic ultrasound is highly accurate and directs management in patients with neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas

Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Sep;95(9):2271-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.02480.x.


Preoperative localization of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors with traditional imaging fails in 40-60% of patients. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is highly sensitive in the detection of these tumors. Previous reports included relatively few patients or required the collaboration of multiple centers. We report the results of EUS evaluation of 82 patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Methods: We prospectively used EUS early in the diagnostic evaluation of patients with biochemical or clinical evidence of neuroendocrine tumors. Patients had surgical confirmation of tumor localization or clinical follow-up of >1 yr.

Results: Eighty-two patients underwent 91 examinations (cases). Thirty patients had multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 1. One hundred pancreatic tumors were visualized by EUS in 54 different patients. The remaining 28 patients had no pancreatic tumor or an extrapancreatic tumor. Surgical/pathological confirmation was obtained in 75 patients. The mean tumor diameter was 1.51 cm and 71% of the tumors were < or =2.0 cm in diameter. Of the 54 explorations with surgical confirmation of a pancreatic tumor, EUS correctly localized the tumor in 50 patients (93%). Twenty-nine insulinomas, 18 gastrinomas, as well as one glucagonoma, one carcinoid tumor, and one somatostatinoma were localized. The most common site for tumor localization was the pancreatic head (46 patients). Most tumors were hypoechoic, homogenous, and had distinct margins. EUS of the pancreas was correctly negative in 20 of 21 patients (specificity, 95%). EUS was more accurate than angiography with or without stimulation testing (secretin for gastrinoma, calcium for insulinoma), transcutaneous ultrasound, and CT in those patients undergoing further imaging procedures. EUS was not reliable in localizing extrapancreatic tumors.

Conclusions: In this series, the largest single center experience reported to date, EUS had an overall sensitivity and accuracy of 93% for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Our results support the use of EUS as a primary diagnostic modality in the evaluation and management of patients with neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / pathology
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoid Tumor / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / surgery
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Somatostatinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Somatostatinoma / pathology
  • Somatostatinoma / surgery
  • Ultrasonography