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Oman Med J. Jan 2012; 27(1): 70–71.
PMCID: PMC3282132

Sneaky Pancreatic Head Mass

A 60 yrs old male presented to the Father Muller Medical College and Hospital, India, with dyspeptic symptoms. On physical examination, epigastric tenderness was present and ultrasound revealed an ill defined inhomogeneous hyper echoic lesion in the head of pancreas. Hemogram, serum amylase, serum lipase and liver function tests were all normal. Contrast-enhanced CT showed a homogeneous focal mass measuring about 5 × 6 cm in the pancreatic head, (Figs. 1a and b). The mass was isodense with fat tissue, with interlobular septa, and without central or peripheral contrast. Upper GI endoscopy revealed mild antral gastritis. The patient improved with antacids.

Figure 1a
Contrast-enhance Computer Tomography.
Figure 1b
Contrast-enhance CT Computer Tomography.


1. What is the diagnosis and management?


Lipoma of the pancreas


Typical CT findings are hypodensity (from -30 to -120 HU) and homogeneity, with no significant contrast enhancement and without infiltration of peri-pancreatic fat. Lipomas appear as hyperechoic on ultrasound with posterior acoustic attenuation, with some instances of hypoechogenicity. MRI is extremely helpful in detecting the presence or absence of macroscopic fat. On T1-weighted images, mature adipose tissue demonstrates high signal intensity and signal drop on fat suppressed sequence; while a T2-weighted image shows variable signal intensity with no enhancement on contrast images.1,2

Pancreatic lipoma is a rare condition usually found incidentally. They are mostly asymptomatic and appear as a well circumscribed, encapsulated homogenous adipose mass within the pancreatic parenchyma. Imaging features of pancreatic lipoma are diagnostic and do not need histopathological evidence.3 In some instances, EUS-FNA is required to differentiate between the benign lipoma and neoplastic lesions, especially lipomatous malignancies.4

There are not many differential diagnosis for pancreatic lipoma on CT scan; few include focal fatty infiltration of the pancreas, teratoma (mature dermoid cyst), and liposarcoma. Histopathological evidence is only needed if there is rapid progress in size to rule out liposarcoma.5 Surgical intervention is done if there are signs of ductal or vessel obstruction and hemorrhage. The condition may be treated with a Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, or by enucleation if the tumors are amenable; if not, palliative by-pass surgery is performed.6,7


The authors reported no conflict of interest and no funding was received for this work.


1. Karaosmanoglu, Devrim MD, Karcaaltincaba, Musturay MD, Akata, Deniz MD, et al. Pancreatic lipoma computed tomography diagnosis of 17 patients and follow-up. Pancreas. 2008 May; 36:434-6. [PubMed]
2. Katz DS, Nardi PM, Hines J, Barckhausen R, Math KR, Fruauff AA, et al. Lipomas of the pancreas. AJR Am J Roentgenol 1998. Jun;170(6):1485-1487 [PubMed]
3. Temizoz O, Genchellac H, Unlu E, Kantarci F, Umit H, Demir MK. Incidental pancreatic lipomas: computed tomography imaging findings with emphasis on diagnostic challenges. Can Assoc Radiol J 2010. Jun;61(3):156-161 10.1016/j.carj.2010.01.004 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
4. Suzuki R, Irisawa A, Hikichi T, Shibukawa G, Takagi T, Wakatsuki T, et al. Pancreatic lipoma diagnosed using EUS-FNA. A case report. JOP 2009;10(2):200-203 [PubMed]
5. Raut CP, Fernandez-del Castillo C. Giant lipoma of the pancreas: case report and review of lipomatous lesions of the pancreas. Pancreas 2003. Jan;26(1):97-99 10.1097/00006676-200301000-00018 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
6. Zhan HX, Zhang TP, Liu BN, Liao Q, Zhao YP. A systematic review of pancreatic lipoma: how come there are so few cases? Pancreas 2010. Mar;39(2):257-260 10.1097/MPA.0b013e3181bdc8d7 [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
7. Salman Monte Z, Ruiz-Cabello Jiménez MP. Pardo Morenoand P. Montoro Martínez. Lipoma of the pancreas: diagnosis and management of these rare tumors. Rev Esp Enferm Dig 2006. Nov;98:11 .10.4321/S1130-01082006001100010 [Cross Ref]

Articles from Oman Medical Journal are provided here courtesy of Oman Medical Specialty Board
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