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Oncology. 1998 Mar-Apr;55(2):122-9.

Diagnosing and staging of pancreatic carcinoma-what is necessary?

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.


The aim of the present prospective observational study was to diagnose and stage pancreatic carcinoma with a minimum of diagnostic procedures. Our experiences in 307 patients with a histologically confirmed pancreatic carcinoma show that for diagnosing pancreatic carcinoma sonography and computed tomography are sufficient in 95% of the cases. The combination of both has a sensitivity equal to that of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP; 96.8 vs. 98.7%; n.s., chi2 test). ERCP is only indicated in cases with negative sonography and computed tomography, and suspicion of pancreatic cancer. For tumor staging, the routine performance of angiography cannot be recommended in view of the fact that although it provides greater sensitivity for the evaluation of an infiltration of the portal vein (80% for angiography vs. 22% for sonography or computed tomography), it is associated with a lower positive predictive value (56.4 vs. 68 and 72%) which results in a lower accuracy. Despite recent advantages in diagnostic technology, less than 50% of unresectable tumors were identified preoperatively at a 10% false-positive rate. The major reason for unresectability is infiltration into the mesenteric axis, which cannot be identified laparoscopically. Laparoscopy or percutaneous biopsy is recommended only in the presence of a tumor with suspicion of distant metastasis detected by radiological imaging and requiring histological confirmation. In conclusion, sonography and computed tomography as the only diagnostic images are sufficient for diagnosing and staging of pancreatic carcinoma in more than 95% of the patients. Only a small number of patients needs further diagnostic procedures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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