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Gastrointest Endosc. 1994 Mar-Apr;40(2 Pt 1):140-5.

Brush cytology during ERCP for the diagnosis of biliary and pancreatic malignancies.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a valuable tool in the diagnosis and management of pancreaticobiliary diseases. The diagnostic sensitivity of brush cytology is reported as between 18% and 70% for malignant bile duct or pancreatic duct strictures. We report our findings in 74 patients with pancreaticobiliary strictures who underwent ERCP. Brush cytology was performed on 55 bile duct specimens and 19 pancreatic duct specimens. No complications related to the procedure occurred; 4 specimens (5.4%) were unsatisfactory for interpretation. Strictures were benign in 22 patients (12 pancreatitis, 5 sclerosing cholangitis, 3 Mirizzi syndrome, and 2 papillitis) and malignant in 52 patients (29 pancreatic carcinoma, 10 cholangiocarcinoma, 6 metastatic disease, 4 pancreatic mucinous ductal ectasia, 1 ampullary carcinoma, and 2 non-functioning islet cell tumors). The nature of the stricture was confirmed by surgery, surgical biopsy, necropsy, or follow-up. The overall results for brush cytology were sensitivity 56.2%, specificity 100%, positive predictive value 100%, negative predictive value 51.2%, and accuracy 70%. Our results confirm the value, safety, and utility of obtaining cytologic specimens at the time of ERCP; confirmation was obtained in 65.5% of pancreatic carcinoma cases. Although a negative result does not exclude pancreaticobiliary malignancy, a positive result confirms this diagnosis.

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