Autoimmune pancreatitis: imaging features

Radiology. 2004 Nov;233(2):345-52. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2332031436. Epub 2004 Sep 30.


Purpose: To retrospectively determine imaging findings in patients with autoimmune pancreatitis.

Materials and methods: Twenty-nine patients (25 male and four female; mean age, 56 years; range, 15-82 years) with histopathologic diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis were examined. Data were reviewed by two radiologists in consensus. Imaging findings for review included those from helical computed tomography (CT), 25 patients; magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with MR cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), four patients; endoscopic ultrasonography (US), 21 patients; endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), 19 patients; and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography, one patient. Images were analyzed for appearances of pancreas, biliary and pancreatic ducts, and other findings, such as peripancreatic inflammation, encasement of vessels, mass effect, pancreatic calcification, peripancreatic nodes, and peripancreatic fluid collection. Follow-up images were available in nine patients. Serologic markers such as serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) and antinuclear antibody levels were available in 12 patients.

Results: CT showed diffuse (n = 14) and focal (n = 7) enlargement of pancreas. Seven patients had minimal peripancreatic stranding, with lack of vascular encasement, calcification, or peripancreatic fluid collection. Nine patients had enlarged peripancreatic lymph nodes. MR imaging showed focal (n = 2) and diffuse (n = 2) enlargement with rimlike enhancement in one. MRCP revealed pancreatic duct strictures in two and sclerosing cholangitis-like appearance in one. Endoscopic US showed diffuse enlargement of pancreas with altered echotexture in 13 patients and focal mass in the head in six. ERCP showed stricture of distal common bile duct in 12 patients, irregular narrowing of intrahepatic ducts in six, diffuse irregular narrowing of pancreatic duct in nine, and focal stricture of proximal pancreatic duct in six. Serologic markers showed increased IgG and antinuclear antibody levels in seven of 12 patients. At follow-up, CT abnormalities and common bile duct strictures resolved after steroid therapy in three patients.

Conclusion: Features that suggest autoimmune pancreatitis include focal or diffuse pancreatic enlargement, with minimal peripancreatic inflammation and absence of vascular encasement or calcification at CT and endoscopic US, and diffuse irregular narrowing of main pancreatic duct, with associated multiple biliary strictures at ERCP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Cholangiography
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Magnetic Resonance
  • Endosonography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Immunoglobulin G