PURPOSE: The purpose of this work was to evaluate the capabilities of CT to accurately characterize cystic tumors of the pancreas. METHOD: Two observers retrospectively evaluated the CT exams of 100 cystic masses of the pancreas, with pathological confirmation. The two observers, blinded about clinical information and the final diagnosis, tried to categorize the lesions according to well established morphologic features. Statistical analysis was performed to measure the agreement between each radiologist and the consensus diagnosis and to evaluate the usefulness of certain CT findings in differentiating one type of cystic pancreatic neoplasm from another. RESULTS: Serous cystadenoma was better diagnosed by CT [Youden misclassification index (Ymi) = 0.72] than mucinous cystic tumor (Ymi = 0.44) and solid pseudopapillary tumor (cystic variant) (Ymi = 0.47). CONCLUSION: As patients with previous history of pancreatitis were excluded from the study, CT findings allowed correct characterization of only 60% of cystic pancreatic masses. Among the remaining 40%, 15-20% of the wrong diagnoses could not be corrected by means of CT, given the patterns shown by the tumors. In 20-25% of the cases, a nonspecific diagnosis of cystic mass was made.
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