Isolated main pancreatic duct dilatation: CT differentiation between benign and malignant causes

Se Woo Kim, Se Hyung Kim, Dong Ho Lee, Sang Min Lee, Yeon Soo Kim, Jin Young Jang, Joon Koo Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study is to retrospectively evaluate the differential CT features of isolated benign and malignant main pancreatic duct (MPD) dilatation and to investigate whether the diagnostic performance of radiologists can be improved with knowledge of these differential CT features. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Forty-one patients who had isolated MPD dilatation without any visible mass on CT from January 2000 to October 2016 were retrospectively enrolled in the study. Two radiologists reviewed CT images in consensus for the location, shape (smooth vs abrupt), length of transition, dilated pancreatic duct (PD) diameter, presence of duct penetrating sign, parenchymal atrophy, attenuation difference, associated pancreatitis, calcifcation, PD or common bile duct (CBD) enhancement, and perilesional cyst. The chisquare test, Fisher exact test, and t test were used to fnd the differential CT features of benign and malignant MPD dilatation. Two successive review sessions for differentiation between the two disease entities were then independently performed by three other reviewers with differing expertise, with the use of a 5-point confdence scale. The frst session provided no information for differentiation; however, reviewers were aware of the results of univariate analyses in the second session. The diagnostic performance of the radiologists was evaluated using a pairwise comparison of ROC curves. RESULTS. A total of 19 benign and 22 malignant MPD dilatations were identifed. In patients with benign MPD dilatation, transition areas were frequently located in the head (57.9% [11/19] vs 13.6% [3/22], p = 0.003) and showed signifcantly shorter (< 6.1 mm) (78.9% [15/19] vs 9.1% [2/22], p < 0.0001) and smooth transition (89.5% [17/19] vs 9.1% [2/22], p < 0.0001). Duct penetrating sign was exclusively observed in patients with benign MPD dilatation (73.7% [14/19] vs 0% [0/22], p < 0.0001). In contrast, malignant MPD dilatation frequently was accompanied by attenuation difference (63.6% [14/22] vs 10.5% [2/19], p = 0.001) and associated PD or CBD enhancement (36.4% [8/22] vs 0% [0/19], p = 0.003). The AUC values of three reviewers signifcantly increased from 0.653, 0.587, and 0.884 to 0.864, 0.964, and 0.908, respectively, with knowledge of signifcant CT features (p = 0.013, p < 0.0001, and p = 0.701, respectively). CONCLUSION. Distal, long (= 6.1 mm), and abrupt transition, the absence of duct penetrating sign, and the presence of attenuation difference and PD or CBD enhancement were highly suggestive CT fndings for differentiation of malignant from benign MPD dilatation. The diagnostic performance of radiologists with regard to differentiation was signifcantly improved with knowledge of these highly suggestive CT criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-1055
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Benign stricture
  • Isoattenuating pancreatic cancer
  • Isolated main pancreatic duct dilatation
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

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