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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Dec;193(6):1691-5. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.2958.

Ultrasound-guided percutaneous fine-needle aspiration of 545 focal pancreatic lesions.

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Institute of Radiology, University Hospital GB Rossi, P. le L. A. Scuro 10, 37134 Verona, Italy.



The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy and short-term complication rate of ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytologic sampling of focal pancreatic lesions.


We reviewed 545 consecutive ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytologic sampling procedures for focal pancreatic lesions from January 2004 through June 2008. The procedures were performed with a 20- or 21-gauge needle. The onsite cytopathologist evaluated the appropriateness of the sample and made a diagnosis. We reviewed the final diagnosis and the radiologic and medical records of all patients for onset of complications during or within 7 days of the procedure.


The study sample included 262 women and 283 men (mean age, 62 years; range, 25-86 years). The head or uncinate process of the pancreas was the location of 63.0% of the lesions, and 35.2% of the lesions were located in the body or tail of the pancreas. The site of 10 lesions (1.8%) was not specified. Sampling was diagnostic in 509 of the 545 cases (93.4%). Excluding the 36 nondiagnostic samples, ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytologic sampling had 99.4% sensitivity, 100% specificity, and 99.4% accuracy. In 537 of the 545 cases (98.5%), the procedure was uneventful. In two cases, abdominal fluid was found after the procedure that was not present before the procedure. Six patients experienced postprocedural pain without abnormal findings at subsequent imaging. No major complications occurred.


Ultrasound-guided cytologic sampling is safe and accurate for the diagnosis and planning of management of focal pancreatic lesions. With a cytologist on site, the rate of acquisition of samples adequate for diagnosis is high, reducing the need for patient recall.

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