Recent advances in the diagnostic evaluation of pancreatic cystic lesions

World J Gastroenterol. 2022 Feb 14;28(6):624-634. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v28.i6.624.


Pancreatic cystic lesions (PCLs) are becoming more prevalent due to more frequent abdominal imaging and the increasing age of the general population. It has become crucial to identify these PCLs and subsequently risk stratify them to guide management. Given the high morbidity associated with pancreatic surgery, only those PCLs at high risk for malignancy should undergo such treatment. However, current diagnostic testing is suboptimal at accurately diagnosing and risk stratifying PCLs. Therefore, research has focused on developing new techniques for differentiating mucinous from non-mucinous PCLs and identifying high risk lesions for malignancy. Cross sectional imaging radiomics can potentially improve the predictive accuracy of primary risk stratification of PCLs at the time of detection to guide invasive testing. While cyst fluid glucose has reemerged as a potential biomarker, cyst fluid molecular markers have improved accuracy for identifying specific types of PCLs. Endoscopic ultrasound guided approaches such as confocal laser endomicroscopy and through the needle microforceps biopsy have shown a good correlation with histopathological findings and are evolving techniques for identifying and risk stratifying PCLs. While most of these recent diagnostics are only practiced at selective tertiary care centers, they hold a promise that management of PCLs will only get better in the future.

Keywords: Confocal laser endomicroscopy; Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms; Microforceps biopsy; Mucinous cystic neoplasm; Pancreatic cystic lesion; Radiomics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyst Fluid
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration / methods
  • Humans
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Cyst* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Cyst* / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology