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Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2014 Sep;12(3):333-49. doi: 10.1007/s11938-014-0019-6.

Incidental Cystic Lesions in the Pancreas: Resect? EUS? Follow?

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Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA, 02115, USA,



Pancreatic cysts challenge clinicians due to their increased incidental identification on radiology imaging, the limitations of currently available diagnostic tools, and potential for malignancy. Following initial identification of an incidental pancreatic cyst, a dedicated pancreatic protocol abdominal CT scan or MRI pancreas with MRCP should be performed. Surgical resection is recommended for all surgical candidates with MD-IPMN, mixed or combined type IPMN, mucinous cystic neoplasm, and solid pseudopapillary neoplasm. Serous cystadenoma may be followed with serial imaging unless the patient develops symptoms, the cyst is larger than 4 cm or rapidly growing, or diagnostic uncertainty remains despite thorough evaluation. Surveillance is also recommended for BD-IPMN without the following features concerning malignancy: obstructive jaundice with a cyst in the head of the pancreas; solid component; nodule; main pancreatic duct ≥10 mm; or cytology suspected or positive for malignancy. BD-IPMN ≥3 cm without concerning features may also be followed carefully, although surgical resection should be considered in surgically fit patients. EUS-FNA for cyst wall cytology, CEA, amylase, and occasionally k-ras mutation are also likely aids in the diagnosis of pancreatic cysts beyond radiologic imaging. This author typically recommends EUS-FNA to further evaluate cysts larger than 1 cm without definitive indication for resection. EUS is also appropriate in patients with solid component, nodule, or size ≥3 cm to aid in decision making, especially in older patients who may be less suitable surgical candidates. A multidisciplinary approach with a team of dedicated gastrointestinal radiologists, pancreatic surgeons, gastrointestinal pathologists, and gastroenterologists is essential for managing patients with pancreatic cysts.

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