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Gastrointest Endosc. 1997 Nov;46(5):417-23.

Incidence and clinical findings of benign, inflammatory disease in patients resected for presumed pancreatic head cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The differentiation between cancer and benign disease in the pancreatic head is difficult. The aim of this study was to examine common features in a group of patients that had undergone pancreatoduodenectomy for a benign, inflammatory lesion misdiagnosed as pancreatic head cancer.


Among 220 pancreatoduodenectomies performed on the suspiscion of pancreatic head cancer, an inflammatory lesion in the pancreas or distal common bile duct was diagnosed in 14 patients (6%). Of these patients, all preoperative clinical information and radiologic images (ultrasound, endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreaticography [ERCP]) were critically reassessed. For each examination, the suspicion of cancer was scored on a 0/+/++ scale.


Clinical presentation (pain, weight loss, jaundice) raised a suspicion of cancer in 12 patients. On ultrasound, a tumor (mean size: 2.8 cm) was found in the pancreatic head in 13 patients; 12 of 14 ultrasound examinations raised a suspicion of cancer. ERCP showed a distal common bile duct stenosis (length: 1 to 4 cm), stenosis of the pancreatic duct (length: 1 to 5 cm), or a "double duct" stenosis, suspicious for cancer in 13 evaluable patients. The overall index of suspicion was + in seven patients and ++ in seven patients, confirming the initial interpretation of preoperative data.


When undertaking pancreatoduodenectomy for a suspicious lesion in the pancreatic head, it is necessary to expect at least a 5% chance of resecting a benign, inflammatory lesion masquerading as cancer.

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