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Abdom Imaging. 2012 Feb;37(1):91-7. doi: 10.1007/s00261-011-9720-2.

Incidentally discovered solid pancreatic masses: imaging and clinical observations.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Stanford University, CA 94305-5105, USA.



The purpose of this study was to review the CT findings and clinical outcome in patients with incidentally discovered solid pancreatic masses.


Over an 8-year period, from 2001 to 2009, we identified 24 patients with solid pancreatic masses incidentally detected by CT. There were 13 females and 11 males, with a mean age of 67 years. We determined the indication for initial CT, analyzed the CT features, and ascertained the clinical follow-up in all the patients.


All of the solid masses were malignant. There were 14 adenocarcinomas and 10 neuroendocrine tumors. The most common indications for the initial CT were surveillance of an extrapancreatic malignancy (n = 10) and evaluation for hematuria (n = 6). On the initial CT, 16 of the patients (67%) had a clearly visible pancreatic mass. In eight patients isoattenuating masses were identified, only recognized by subtle signs including unexplained dilatation of the pancreatic duct (n = 5) or minimal contour deformity or density of the pancreas (n = 3). The mean survival time for the patients with adenocarcinoma was 21.6 months, and 42 months for the patients with neuroendocrine tumors.


Although uncommon, incidentally discovered solid pancreatic masses are malignant neoplasms, either ductal adenocarcinomas or neuroendocrine tumors. Unlike incidentally discovered small cystic lesions, solid pancreatic lesions are often biologically aggressive.

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