Recent advances and novel methods in pancreatic imaging

Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2008 Mar;54(1):85-95.


Traditional imaging studies for evaluating pancreatic disease including abdominal ultrasound (US) and computerized tomography (CT) are widely utilized due to their availability, non-invasiveness, and familiarity to practitioners. The addition of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) has contributed significantly to the clinician's the ability to safely sample tissue, stage malignancy, evaluate the pancreatic ductal anatomy, and look for subtle parenchymal changes in the setting of chronic pancreatitis. The role of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) has diminished with the use of these less invasive modalities. Limitations in these conventional techniques include a lack of sensitivity and specificity in diagnosing early chronic pancreatitis, difficulties in differentiating malignancy from chronic or focal pancreatitis, and accuracy of staging pancreatic malignancy, particularly with regard to vascular involvement. Several recent advances in traditional imaging techniques have been described, which may improve our ability to accurately diagnose and stage pancreatic disease. Advances have been made in the standard modalities for imaging the pancreas such as multidetector CT, micro-bubble contrast enhanced ultrasound, and secretin stimulated MRCP. Other novel methods of pancreatic imaging have recently been described including EUS elastography, optical coherence tomography, diffusion weighted MRI, and MR spectroscopy. This article will review the recent advances in both traditional pancreatic imaging modalities as well as some of the emerging technologies for imaging evaluating diseases of the pancreas. As experience and clinical evidence accumulate, the role of these imaging techniques will continue to evolve.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endosonography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed