Intraoperative ultrasonography (I.US) has been introduced in order to overcome the limits of the preoperative imaging modalities (notably, ultrasonography and computed tomography), both in pancreatic cancer diagnosis and staging. The authors' experience encompasses 32 cases, selected according to the following criteria: lesions that could not be detected both preoperatively and at surgical exploration; lesions detected but not properly characterized, requiring differential diagnosis between cancer and pancreatitis; tumoral lesions with a perspective of radical surgery, in which the preoperative judgment of resectability had to be verified. In the only case of the first group, I.US allowed the identification of a small cancer in a jaundiced patient. In the 11 cases of the second group, I.US-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy showed three cancers; however, among the other 8 lesions classified as pancreatitis there was one false negative diagnosis (a tumoral mass with liver metastases was demonstrated by computed tomography 6 mo later). Regarding the intraoperative staging of the proven cancers (20 cases of the third group; 4 cases of the first and second groups), I.US changed the planned surgical approach in 9 cases (showing vascular involvement or detecting liver metastases and enlarged lymph nodes not seen preoperatively); in 12 cases it confirmed the possibility of radical surgery. Finally, in the remaining 3 cases, I.US provided dubious information: only vascular dissection during surgery could achieve a correct evaluation, ruling out vascular involvement and thus allowing tumor resection.
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