High prevalence of pancreatic cysts detected by screening magnetic resonance imaging examinations

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Sep;8(9):806-11. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2010.05.017. Epub 2010 Jun 1.


Background & aims: The prevalence of pancreatic cysts is not known, but asymptomatic pancreatic cysts are diagnosed with increasing frequency. We investigated the prevalence of pancreatic cysts in individuals who were screened by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as part of a preventive medical examination.

Methods: Data from consecutive persons who underwent abdominal MRI (n = 2803; 1821 men; mean age, 51.1 +/- 10.8 y) at an institute of preventive medical care were included from a prospective database. All individuals had completed an application form including questions about possible abdominal complaints and prior surgery. MRI reports were reviewed for the presence of pancreatic cysts. Original image sets of all positive MRI reports and a representative sample of the negative series were re-assessed by a blinded, independent radiologist.

Results: Pancreatic cysts were reported in 66 persons (2.4%; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-3.0); prevalence correlated with increasing age (P < .001). There was no difference in prevalence between sexes (P = .769). There was no correlation between abdominal complaints and the presence of pancreatic cysts (P = .542). Four cysts (6%) were larger than 2 cm and 3 (5%) were larger than 3 cm. Review of the original image sets by the independent radiologist did not significantly change these findings.

Conclusions: The prevalence of pancreatic cysts in a large consecutive series of individuals who underwent an MRI at a preventive medical examination was 2.4%. Prevalence increased with age, but did not differ between sexes. Only a minority of cysts were larger than 2 cm.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Cyst / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Cyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Cyst / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Radiography, Abdominal
  • Surveys and Questionnaires