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Surg Endosc. 2005 Mar;19(3):369-73. Epub 2004 Dec 23.

Does multidetector-row CT eliminate the role of diagnostic laparoscopy in assessing the resectability of pancreatic head adenocarcinoma?

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Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, 15 Parkman St, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



We hypothesized that the high-quality images from multidetector-row computed tomography (MDCT) would lead to improved sensitivity and specificity for predicting resectable pancreatic head adenocarcinoma, thus diminishing the value of staging laparoscopy.


Forty four consecutive patients underwent thin-section dual-phase MDCT to stage their tumor, followed by an attempted pancreaticoduodenectomy. Four radiologists who were blinded to the operative outcome reviewed the scans and graded the presence of distant and nodal metastases, as well as the degree of arterial and portal involvement. The radiologic criteria for resectability were no distant metastasis, a patent portal vein, and < 50% arterial involvement.


The overall resectability for this cohort was 52% (23/44). The 21 unresectable cases, included five liver metastases, three peritoneal metastases, and 13 locally invasive tumors. The negative margin resection rate was 34% (15/44). There were no portal vein resections. The sensitivity and specificity of MDCT for predicting resectability were 96% (22/23) and 33% (7/21), respectively. In this cohort, the positive and negative predictive values were 61% (22/36) and 87.5% (7/8), respectively. As determined by univariate logistic regression, only the degree of arterial involvement was a significant predictor of resectability (p = 0.02). As determined by multivariate logistic regression using both arterial and portal involvement, arterial involvement was predictive (p = 0.03) but portal vein involvement was not (p = 0.45).


Despite the improvements in image quality obtained with multidetector-row technology, CT imaging remains a relatively nonspecific test for predicting resectability in patients with adenocarcinoma of the head of the pancreas. Minimally invasive modalities with higher specificity, particularly laparoscopy, continue to have an important role in staging pancreatic head adenocarcinoma.

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