Purpose: To document our experience with spiral hydro-CT of the pancreas based on a combination of pharmacologic intestinal paralysis and water distension of the stomach and duodenum with specific reference to tumor detection rate, differentiation of malignant versus benign tumors and assessment of tumor resectability in a prospective study on 211 consecutive patients.
Material and methods: Between May 1994 und September 1997, 211 patients with suspect of pancreatic neoplasm from clinical, laboratory or other imaging data were examined. Our Hydro-CT techniques were based on intravenous injection of 40 mg N-butylscopolaminiumbromid (Buscopan) for intestinal paralysis, gastric and duodenal wall distension by oral administration of an average of 1.5 l warm tap water, 30 degrees RAO patient's positioning, individualized contrast injection technique using portal vein enhancement as reference and thin slice spiral CT (3 mm slice thickness, 6 mm table feed and 3 mm secondary reconstruction). Examined parameters were: (1) tumor detection rate, (2) differentiation of malignant versus benign disease, (3) differential diagnosis and (4) accuracy of assessment of resectability by identification of infiltration into adjacent organs and vessel structures relevant for resectability such as splenic, superior mesenteric, portal vein and celiac trunk, superior mesenteric, splenic and hepatic arteries. As gold standard for positive tumor detection and description surgery (of potentially resectable tumors) and microscopic diagnosis (of clearly unresectable tumors) were used and for negative tumor detection an event-free survival of six months, respectively.
Results: 96% of the examinations were well tolerated. In only 4% was on-site administration of a gastric tube required because of vomiting. In 2% of the patients a slight allergic reaction to the contrast medium was seen. The prevalence of a pancreatic neoplasm was 37.8%. In tumor detection Hydro-CT reached an overall accuracy of 94.8% with a sensitivity of 93.7% and a specificity of 95.2%. 52 patients underwent surgical exploration 34 of whom with tumorfree resection margins (RO resection) corresponding to a resection of 42.5%. In those assessment of resectability reached an overall accuracy of 94.6% with a sensitivity of 91.2% and specificity of 95.6%.
Conclusion: The new technique of Hydro-CT based on the slice and spiral methodology including pharmacologic intestinal paralysis and water distension results in a high tumor detection rate and reliable assessment of resectability.