Pancreatic Incidentalomas: A Management Algorithm for Identifying Ectopic Spleens

J Surg Res. 2019 Apr:236:144-152. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2018.11.032. Epub 2018 Dec 17.


Background: Identification of incidental pancreatic lesions is increasing because of advancements in imaging. Diagnosis remains a challenge for clinicians, with intrapancreatic accessory spleens (IPAS) posing a unique dilemma. IPAS are frequently resected because of inability to exclude alternate diagnoses, subjecting patients to unnecessary risk. The purpose of this study was to examine our institutional experience with IPAS and develop a multidisciplinary algorithm to improve preoperative diagnosis.

Materials and methods: Patients who underwent a distal pancreatectomy at a single institution from 2005 to 2018 were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Examination of final pathology for a diagnosis of IPAS yielded the final cohort. Demographics, preoperative workup, and operative course were reviewed and analyzed. A diagnostic algorithm was composed based on the consensus of a panel of expert pancreatic surgeons, a radiologist, and a pathologist.

Results: Ten patients of 303 patients who underwent a distal pancreatectomy were identified with a final pathology of IPAS. The average age was 54 y, 80% were white, and 60% were male. Lesions ranged in size from 7 mm to 5.1 cm in largest diameter (mean 2.2 cm). Lesions were described as round, well-marginated, and enhancing masses within the pancreatic tail. Preoperative workup was variable in terms of imaging and laboratory testing. Diagnostic workups were examined and combined with multidisciplinary input to create a diagnostic algorithm.

Conclusions: Incidental pancreatic lesions like IPAS remain a diagnostic challenge for clinicians. Employing a diagnostic algorithm as proposed may aid in the distinction of malignant and premalignant pathology and prevent unwarranted pancreatic resections.

Keywords: Diagnostic algorithm; Distal pancreatectomy; Ectopic spleen; Pancreatic incidental lesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Choristoma / diagnosis*
  • Choristoma / pathology
  • Choristoma / surgery
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Diseases / pathology
  • Pancreatic Diseases / surgery
  • Pathologists / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiologists / organization & administration
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spleen*
  • Surgeons / organization & administration
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed