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Diagnostic and Therapeutic Endoscopy
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 478913, 9 pages
Review Article

Diagnosis and Management of Cystic Lesions of the Pancreas

1Department of Medicine, Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21229, USA
2Department of Surgery, Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21229, USA
3Department of Surgery, The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA
4Department of Pathology, The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA

Received 9 May 2011; Revised 29 June 2011; Accepted 29 June 2011

Academic Editor: C. M. Wilcox

Copyright © 2011 Niraj Jani et al. 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.


Pancreatic cysts are challenging lesions to diagnose and to treat. Determining which of the five most common diagnoses—pancreatic pseudocyst, serous cystic neoplasm (SCN), solid pseudopapillary neoplasm (SPN), mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN), and intraductal mucinous papillary neoplasm (IPMN)—is likely the correct one requires the careful integration of many historical, radiographic, laboratory, and other factors, and management is markedly different depending on the type of cystic lesion of the pancreas. Pseudocysts are generally distinguishable based on historical, clinical and radiographic characteristics, and among the others, the most important differentiation is between the mucin-producing MCN and IPMN (high risk for cancer) versus the serous SCN and SPN (low risk for cancer). EUS with FNA and cyst-fluid analysis will continue to play an important role in diagnosis. Among mucinous lesions, those that require treatment (resection currently) are any MCN, any MD IPMN, and BD IPMN larger than 3 cm, symptomatic, or with an associated mass, with the understanding that SCN or pseudocysts may be removed inadvertently due to diagnostic inaccuracy, and that a certain proportion of SPN will indeed be malignant at the time of removal. The role of ethanol ablation is under investigation as an alternative to resection in selected patients.