Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) of the pancreas are one of the most common preneoplastic entities among pancreatic cystic neoplasms (PCN). Their incidence is increasing due to an extensive use of cross-sectional imaging, but management still remains controversial. Among IPMNs, the main duct (MD-IPMN) and mixed (MT-IPMN) types harbor a high risk of malignant degeneration requiring resection in most of cases. The branch duct type (BD-IPMN), on the other side, can be safely surveilled as surgical resection is limited to selected cases deemed at high risk of malignant progression according to specific clinical and radiological features. An accurate diagnosis and a correct assessment of malignant potential are often hard to achieve, and clinical management still relies on the experience of the gastroenterologist/surgeon that is called to choose between a major pancreatic resection burdened by high morbidity and mortality rates and a life-long surveillance. The purpose of this report is to summarize the available evidence supporting the current practice for the management of IPMN and to offer a useful practical guide from first observation to postoperative follow-up.
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