Computed tomography, endoscopic, laparoscopic, and intra-operative sonography for assessing resectability of pancreatic cancer

Surg Oncol. 2005 Aug;14(2):105-13. doi: 10.1016/j.suronc.2005.07.001.


Pancreas cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer in adults. Cure of pancreas cancer is dependent on the complete surgical removal of localized tumor. A complete surgical resection is dependent on accurate preoperative and intra-operative imaging of tumor and its relationship to vital structures. Imaging of pancreatic tumors preoperatively and intra-operatively is achieved by pancreatic protocol computed tomography (CT), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), laparoscopic ultrasound (LUS), and intra-operative ultrasound (IOUS). Multi-detector CT with three-dimensional (3-D) reconstruction of images is the most useful preoperative modality to assess resectability. It has a sensitivity and specificity of 90 and 99%, respectively. It is not observer dependent. The images predict operative findings. EUS and LUS have sensitivities of 77 and 78%, respectively. They both have a very high specificity. Further, EUS has the ability to biopsy tumor and obtain a definitive tissue diagnosis. IOUS is a very sensitive (93%) method to assess tumor resectability during surgery. It adds little time and no morbidity to the operation. It greatly facilitates the intra-operative decision-making. In reality, each of these methods adds some information to help in determining the extent of tumor and the surgeon's ability to remove it. We rely on pancreatic protocol CT with 3-D reconstruction and either EUS or IOUS depending on the tumor location and operability of the tumor and patient. With these modern imaging modalities, it is now possible to avoid major operations that only determine an inoperable tumor. With proper preoperative selection, surgery is able to remove tumor in the majority of patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endoscopy, Digestive System
  • Endosonography
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Laparoscopy
  • Male
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Preoperative Care
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed