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Am Surg. 1993 Nov;59(11):740-5.

Cystic neoplasms of the pancreas: problems in differential diagnosis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Padua, Italy.


From 1970 to 1990 we observed 18 patients with histologically proven pancreatic cystic tumors. The average duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis was 14.1 months. A presumptive diagnosis was made preoperatively in nine patients. CT-guided fine needle cytology performed in three cases correctly showed a benign lesion in one patient and malignancy in two patients. Amylase and tumoral marker levels (CEA, CA19-9) were low in cystic fluid of two patients with cystadenomas who underwent preoperative percutaneous aspiration. Intraoperative biopsy of the cystic wall failed to detect epithelial lining in two cases; one patient had internal drainage for cystadenocarcinoma mistaken for pancreatic pseudocyst. Sixteen patients underwent surgery, two of whom died. Of the seven patients with a malignant condition, resection for cure was performed on three. The preoperative diagnosis of these very rare tumors remains difficult. Fine-needle cytology and cystic fluid examination may be a promising technique, but resection of all suspected lesions, whenever possible, is the procedure of choice for diagnosis and treatment.

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