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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 23 (2009), Issue 4, Pages 279-286
Original Article

Predictors of Malignancy and Recommended Follow-Up for Patients with Negative Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine-Needle Aspiration of Suspected Pancreatic Lesions

Bret J Spier, Eric A Johnson, Deepak V Gopal, Terrence Frick, Michael M Einstein, Siobhan Byrne, Rebecca L Koscik, Jinn-Ing Liou, Terri Broxmeyer, Suzanne M Selvaggi, and Patrick R Pfau

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Received 4 September 2008; Accepted 20 November 2008

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) with fine-needle aspiration (FNA) can characterize and diagnose pancreatic lesions as malignant, but cannot definitively rule out the presence of malignancy. Outcome data regarding the length of follow-up in patients with negative or nondiagnostic EUS-FNA of pancreatic lesions are not well-established.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the long-term outcome and provide follow-up guidance for patients with negative EUS-FNA diagnosis of suspected pancreatic lesions based on imaging predictors.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients undergoing EUS-FNA for suspected pancreatic lesions, but with negative or nondiagnostic FNA results was conducted at a tertiary care referral medical centre. Patient demographics, EUS imaging characteristics and follow-up data were examined.

RESULTS: Seventeen of 55 patients (30.9%) with negative/nondiagnostic FNA were subsequently diagnosed with pancreatic malignancy. The risk of cancer was significantly higher for patients who had associated lymph nodes on EUS (P<0.001) and vascular involvement on EUS (P=0.001). The mean time to diagnosis in the group with false-negative EUS-FNA diagnosis was 66 days. The true-negative EUS-FNA patients were followed for a mean of 403 days after negative EUS-FNA results without the development of malignancy.

CONCLUSION: For patients undergoing EUS-FNA for a suspected pancreatic lesion, a negative or nondiagnostic FNA does not provide conclusive evidence for the absence of cancer. Patients for whom vascular invasion and lymphadenopathy are detected on EUS are more likely to have a true malignant lesion and should be followed closely. When a patient has been monitored for six months or more with no cancer being diagnosed, there appears to be much less chance that a pancreatic malignancy is present.