Endoscopic ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration for the diagnosis of pancreatic cystic neoplasms: a meta-analysis

Pancreatology. Jan-Feb 2013;13(1):48-57. doi: 10.1016/j.pan.2012.11.313. Epub 2012 Dec 4.


Background and objectives: Mucinous cystic neoplasms and intraductal papillary mucinous tumours have greater malignant potential than serous cystic neoplasms. EUS alone is inadequate for characterising these lesions but the addition of FNA may significantly improve diagnostic accuracy. The performance of EUS-FNA is highly variable in published studies.

Aim: To determine the diagnostic accuracy of EUS-FNA to differentiate mucinous versus non-mucinous cystic lesions with cyst fluid analysis for cytology and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) by performing a meta-analysis of published studies.

Methods: Relevant studies were identified via structured database search and included if they used a reference standard of definitive surgical histology or clinical follow-up of at least 6 months. Data from selected studies were pooled to give summary sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratios, diagnostic odds ratio and Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve. Pre-defined subgroup analysis was performed.

Results: Eighteen studies (published 2002-2011) were included, with a total of 1438 patients. For cytology, pooled sensitivity was 54(95%CI 49-59)% and specificity 93(90-95)%. The diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) was 13.3 (4.37-49.43), with I(2) of 77.1%. For CEA sensitivity was 63(59-67)% and specificity 88(83-91)%. The DOR was 10.76(6.29-18.41) with an I(2) of 25.4%. The diagnostic accuracy of EUS-FNA was enhanced in prospective studies and studies of <36 months duration. No impact of publication bias on our results was demonstrated.

Conclusions: Fine-needle aspiration has moderate sensitivity but high specificity for mucinous lesions. EUS-FNA, when used in conjunction with cross sectional imaging, is a useful diagnostic tool for the correct identification of mucinous cysts.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / analysis
  • Cyst Fluid / chemistry
  • Cyst Fluid / cytology
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration / methods
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Cyst / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Cyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen