Purpose: Current sonographic technology has enhanced imaging. This study analyzes the sonographic findings in a large series of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Methods: The sonograms of 62 patients with pathologically confirmed pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma were retrospectively analyzed.
Results: Tumors were an average of 4.5 x 3.5 cm in cross section. The largest lesion was 14.0 x 9.0 cm, and the smallest was 1.8 x 1.1 cm. Forty-three tumors (69%) were located in the head of the pancreas, 1 (2%) at the junction of the head and body, and 16 (26%) in the body or tail; 2 lesions (3%) were diffuse. Tumors were ovoid or spherical in 37 patients (60%) and irregular in 25 (40%). Forty tumors (65%) markedly deformed the shape of the gland. Six lesions (10%) caused no glandular contour abnormality and were visualized only because tumor echogenicity differed from that of the normal pancreas. Thirty-four tumors (55%) were homogeneously hypoechoic compared with the normal pancreas, 2 (3%) were homogeneously hyperechoic, 1 (2%) was isoechoic, and 25 (40%) had heterogeneous echotextures. Many of the heterogeneous tumors were predominantly hypoechoic with areas of varied echogenicity. Calcifications were noted in 4 patients (6%) and small intratumoral cystic areas in 9 patients (15%). Postobstructive pseudocysts were found in 4 patients (6%). Color Doppler flow information was available for 19 patients; internal flow was detected in only 1 tumor (5%). Vascular occlusion was found in 3 patients and circumferential vascular encasement in 8; the tumors in these patients were unresectable. Tumors were noted to touch vessels in another 6 patients.
Conclusions: Current sonographic equipment allows the demonstration of new findings in pancreatic carcinoma. Color Doppler sonography can define tumor involvement of blood vessels and potentially affect clinical staging and treatment decisions.