Imaging modalities in the diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy

Eur J Radiol. 2017 Jul;92:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2017.04.009. Epub 2017 Apr 24.


Background: Pancreatic cancer, primarily pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), accounts for 2.4% of cancer diagnoses and 5.8% of cancer death annually. Early diagnoses can improve 5-year survival in PDAC. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy values for MRI, CT, PET&PET/CT, EUS and transabdominal ultrasound (TAUS) in the diagnosis of PDAC.

Methods: A systematic review was undertaken to identify studies reporting sensitivity, specificity and/or diagnostic accuracy for the diagnosis of PDAC with MRI, CT, PET, EUS or TAUS. Proportional meta-analysis was performed for each modality.

Results: A total of 5399 patients, 3567 with PDAC, from 52 studies were included. The sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy were 93% (95% CI=88-96), 89% (95% CI=82-94) and 90% (95% CI=86-94) for MRI; 90% (95% CI=87-93), 87% (95% CI=79-93) and 89% (95% CI=85-93) for CT; 89% (95% CI=85-93), 70% (95% CI=54-84) and 84% (95% CI=79-89) for PET; 91% (95% CI=87-94), 86% (95% CI=81-91) and 89% (95% CI=87-92) for EUS; and 88% (95% CI=86-90), 94% (95% CI=87-98) and 91% (95% C=87-93) for TAUS.

Conclusion: This review concludes all modalities, except for PET, are equivalent within 95% confidence intervals for the diagnosis of PDAC.

Keywords: CT; Diagnosis; MRI; Pancreatic adenocarcinoma; Ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnosis*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma