Background & aims: It is uncertain whether computed tomography (CT) or endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is superior for the detection, staging, and resectability of pancreatic cancer. We therefore performed a systematic literature review to determine which test is more accurate.
Methods: We identified relevant studies from MEDLINE (1986-2004) and evaluated study quality, which was measured on the basis of guidelines for assessing studies of diagnostic tests. Quantitative outcomes data were abstracted from the studies.
Results: Eleven studies with 678 patients satisfied inclusion criteria. Nine studies assessed tumor detection, all of which concluded that the sensitivity of EUS was superior to CT. Four of 5 studies that assessed tumor staging accuracy and 5 of 8 that assessed nodal staging accuracy concluded that EUS was superior to CT. Among the 4 studies that assessed resectability, 2 showed no difference between EUS and CT, and 1 favored each modality. Three of 11 studies met all but one of the quality criteria. The most important and frequent study limitations were lack of a consecutive series of patients and biased patient selection for surgery. Quantitative comparisons among studies were precluded by differences in tumor staging classifications, surgical selection, CT and EUS techniques, and reporting of operating characteristics.
Conclusions: The published literature comparing EUS and CT for preoperative assessment of pancreatic cancer is heterogeneous in study design, quality, and results. All studies have methodologic limitations that potentially affect validity. Prospective studies with state-of-the-art imaging are needed to further define the role of each test.