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Diagn Cytopathol. 2006 Nov;34(11):724-30.

Pancreatic mucinous lesions: a retrospective analysis with cytohistological correlation.

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The Lauren V. Ackerman Laboratory of Surgical Pathology, Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


The diagnosis of mucinous pancreatic lesions, which include mucinous noncystic adenocarcinoma, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN), and mucinous metaplasia, is critical, given different clinical management and prognosis. This retrospective study is done to assess the cytological features and pitfalls associated with these entities in cytological samples.A search for pancreatic cytology specimens with histological confirmation of the various pancreatic mucinous lesions was done from 1988 to 2005: 9 mucinous adenocarcinoma, 14 IPMN, 11 MCN, and 3 mucinous metaplasia. The majority (35/37) had been endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspirations. The cellularity, background extracellular mucin, epithelial architecture, mucinous nature of the epithelium, cell shape, and nuclear features were evaluated on the cytology material. Of the 22 cytological features evaluated, the presence of three-dimensional clusters, micropapillary structures, and nuclear atypia, which includes nuclear crowding, increased N/C ratio, anisonucleosis, nuclear membrane contour irregularity, clumpy chromatin, and prominent nucleoli, was found to be consistently associated with mucinous adenocarcinoma. There were no statistically significant cytological features, which helped in differentiating IPMN, MCN, and mucinous metaplasia. There was a relatively high false-positive rate in the IPMN group (5/14, 36%). Review of the histological specimen showed severe dysplastic epithelial change in these cases. One false-positive case of mucinous metaplasia (1/3, 33%) showed marked intraepithelial acute inflammation. The cytological diagnosis of mucinous pancreatic lesions remains challenging, except for mucinous noncystic adenocarcinoma. The findings were largely nonspecific in the differentiation between IPMN, MCN, mucinous metaplasia, and incidentally sampled gastrointestinal epithelium. False-positive diagnosis of adenocarcinoma occurs not infrequently in the setting of IPMN with severe dysplastic epithelial change and in lesions with associated acute inflammation, and can be a pitfall in the diagnosis of these lesions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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