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Pancreatology. 2008;8(3):277-84. doi: 10.1159/000134276. Epub 2008 May 22.

Cytological and cyst fluid analysis of small (< or =3 cm) branch duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms adds value to patient management decisions.

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  • 1James Homer Wright Pathology Laboratories and Cytopathology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Management of patients with small (1-3 cm) branch duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) is a challenge. Symptoms, dilated duct, mural nodule or positive cytology have been proposed as parameters for resection. The aim of our study was to compare this proposed algorithm to one that incorporates cytology with less than malignant epithelial cells and cyst fluid carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).


A retrospective study was conducted.


There were 14 nonmalignant and 6 malignant cysts with 3 invasive IPMN. None were associated with a dilated duct and none had positive cytology. Only a mural nodule was significant by univariate analysis for the detection of malignancy (p = 0.01) and invasion (p = 0.009). The detection of atypical epithelial cells or a cyst fluid CEA of >2,500 ng/ml was more accurate for the detection of malignancy than using the recommended algorithm.


The presence of a mural nodule in a small branch duct IPMN is a predictor of malignancy and invasion by univariate analysis. Recognition of an atypical epithelial cell component in contrast to positive cytology or a cyst fluid CEA of >2,500 ng/ml is more accurate than the recommended algorithm and adds value to the preoperative assessment of clinically diagnosed small branch duct IPMN. and IAP.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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