Clin Radiol 2006 Dec;61(12):996-1002
Department of Imaging, University College Hospital, London, UK.
Aims: To determine the sensitivity and complications of percutaneous biopsy of pancreatic masses, and whether typical computed tomography (CT) features of adenocarcinoma can reliably predict this diagnosis.
Materials And Methods: A 5 year retrospective analysis of percutaneous core biopsies of pancreatic masses and their CT features was undertaken. Data were retrieved from surgical/pathology databases; medical records and CT reports and images.
Results: Three hundred and three patients underwent 372 biopsies; 56 of 87 patients had repeat biopsies. Malignancy was diagnosed in 276 patients, with ductal adenocarcinoma in 259 (85%). Final sensitivity of percutaneous biopsy for diagnosing pancreatic neoplasms was 90%; for repeat biopsy it was 87%. Complications occurred in 17 (4.6%) patients, in three of whom the complications were major (1%): one abscess, one duodenal perforation, one large retroperitoneal bleed. CT features typical of ductal adenocarcinoma were: hypovascular pancreatic mass with bile and/or pancreatic duct dilatation. Atypical CT features were: isodense or hypervascular mass, calcification, non-dilated ducts, cystic change, and extensive lymphadenopathy. Defining typical CT features of adenocarcinoma as true-positives, CT had a sensitivity of 68%, specificity of 95%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 98%, and negative predictive value of 41% for diagnosing pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Conclusion: Final sensitivity of percutaneous biopsy for establishing the diagnosis was 90%. CT features typical of pancreatic adenocarcinoma had high specificity and PPV. On some occasions, especially in frail patients with co-morbidity, it might be reasonable to assume a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer if CT features are typical, and biopsy only if CT shows atypical features.