Preoperative computed tomography measurements of pancreatic steatosis and visceral fat: prognostic markers for dissemination and lethality of pancreatic adenocarcinoma

HPB (Oxford). 2011 Jun;13(6):404-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-2574.2011.00304.x.


Background: Increased visceral fat and pancreatic steatosis promote lymphatic metastases and decreased survival in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma after pancreatoduodenectomy (PD).

Objectives: We aim to determine the utility of preoperative computed tomography (CT) measurements of pancreatic steatosis and visceral fat as prognostic indicators in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Methods: High-resolution CT scans of 42 patients undergoing PD for pancreatic adenocarcinoma were reviewed. Attenuation in CT of the pancreas, liver and spleen were measured in Hounsfield units and scored by two blinded investigators. Perirenal adipose tissue was measured in mm.

Results: Lymphatic metastases were present in 57% of patients. Age, gender, tumour size and margin status were similar in patients with and without nodal metastases. Node-positive patients had increased visceral but not subcutaneous fat pads compared with node-negative patients and decreased CT attenuation of the pancreatic body and tail and liver. Node-positive patients stratified by visceral adiposity (≥10 mm vs. <10 mm) demonstrated poorer survival (7 ± 1 months vs. 16 ± 2 months; P < 0.01).

Conclusions: In resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma, increased pancreatic steatosis and increased visceral fat stores are associated with lymphatic metastases. Furthermore, increased visceral fat is associated with abbreviated survival in patients with lymphatic metastases. Hence, increased visceral fat may be a causative factor of abbreviated survival and serves a prognostic role in patients with pancreatic malignancies.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreas / surgery
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Pancreaticoduodenectomy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Treatment Outcome