Background: Somatostatinomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours with an annual incidence of 1 in 40 million. They arise in the pancreas or periampullary duodenum. Most are clinically non-secretory and do not cause the somatostatinoma syndrome. Many are metastatic at presentation and their management is typically multimodal.
Case histories: Four cases of somatostatinoma are described. Two patients with periampullary disease presented with biliary obstruction, one with frank jaundice and one with incidental bile duct obstruction on investigation of hepatitis B. Each patient had type 1 neurofibromatosis and resection of the somatostatinoma by means of a pylorus-preserving proximal pancreaticoduodenectomy has resulted in long-term survival. Another two patients with metastatic pancreatic somatostatinomas presented with abdominal pain. Contrasting management illustrates current treatment strategies that are dependent in part on the distribution of the disease.
Discussion: The pathophysiology, presentation, clinical associations and role of diagnostic imaging are discussed for periampullary and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Operative treatment has an important role in both the curative and palliative settings in conjunction with appropriate medical treatments and these are described. Management options depend on the extent of the disease and the cases are used to illustrate the rationale of such strategies.