Age-related changes in normal adult pancreas: MR imaging evaluation

Eur J Radiol. 2012 Sep;81(9):2093-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2011.07.014. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Objective: To investigate age-related changes in normal adult pancreas as identified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Materials and methods: We examined 115 patients without pancreatic diseases (21-90 years) who underwent upper abdominal MRI to evaluate the normal pancreatic MRI findings related to aging. The parameters examined were the pancreatic anteroposterior (AP) diameter, pancreatic lobulation, pancreatic signal intensity (SI), depiction of the main pancreatic duct (MPD), grade of the visual SI decrease on the opposed-phase T1-weighted images compared with in-phase images, and enhancement effect of the pancreas in the arterial phase of dynamic imaging.

Results: The pancreatic AP diameter significantly reduced (head, p=0.0172; body, p=0.0007; tail, p<0.0001), and lobulation (p<0.0001) and parenchymal fatty change (p<0.0001) became more evident with aging. No significant correlation was observed between aging and pancreatic SI, however the SI on the in-phase T1-weighted images tended to decrease with aging. No significant correlation was observed between aging and the depiction of the MPD as well as aging and contrast enhancement.

Conclusion: MRI findings of pancreatic atrophy, lobulation, and fatty degeneration are characteristic changes related to aging, and it is necessary to recognize these changes in the interpretation of abdominal MRI in patients with and without pancreatic disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Pancreas / anatomy & histology*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult