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Am J Surg. 2001 Sep;182(3):243-9.

Is a preoperative multidiagnostic approach to predict surgical resectability of periampullary tumors still effective?

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.



Multimodality staging is recommended in patients with periampullary tumors to optimize preoperative determination of resectability. We investigated the potency of currently used diagnostic procedures in order to determine resectability.


Ninety-five consecutive patients with periampullary tumors prehospitally staged resectable underwent preoperative diagnostic tests: helical-computed tomography (CT) with maximum intensity projection of arterial vessels (MIP), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance cholangiopancreaticography (MRCP), endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography (ERCP), digital subtraction angiography (DSA), and positron emission tomography (PET). Diagnoses were verified by surgery and histopathology.


In 45 patients with benign and 50 patients with malignant periampullary tumors sensitivity for tumor diagnosis was 89% to 96% in CT, MRI, EUS, and PET. Small tumors were best diagnosed by EUS (100%). Diagnosis of malignancy was made with 85% (EUS), 83% (CT), 82% (PET), and 72% (MRI) accuracy. Arterial vessel infiltration was best predicted by CT/MIP with an accuracy of 85%. For venous vessel infiltration MRI reached 85% accuracy. Accuracy rates for local nonresectability were 93% (EUS), 92% (MRI), and 90% (CT). Two and 4 of 8 patients with distant metastases were identified by CT and PET, respectively. The correct diagnosis of malignancy and determination of resectability was made by CT in 71% and by MRI in 70%. Biliary stenting reduced accuracy of CT diagnosis of malignancy from 88% to 73%.


CT obtained before stenting was the single most useful test, providing correct diagnosis in 88% and resectability in 71% of patients. If no tumor is depicted in CT, EUS should be added. Uncertain venous vessel infiltration can be verified by MRI or EUS. Angiography should no longer be a routine diagnostic procedure. Equivocal tumors or possible metastasis may be further examined with PET.

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