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Concept: Pancreatic duct


BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer, including cancer of the ampulla of Vater and bile duct, is very aggressive and has a poor five year survival rate; improved methods of patient stratification are required. METHODS: We assessed the expression of calpain-1, calpain-2 and calpastatin in two patient cohorts using immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays. The first cohort was composed of 68 pancreatic adenocarcinomas and the second cohort was composed of 120 cancers of the bile duct and ampulla. RESULTS: In bile duct and ampullary carcinomas an association was observed between cytoplasmic calpastatin expression and patient age (P=0.036), and between nuclear calpastatin expression and increased tumour stage (P=0.026) and the presence of vascular invasion (P=0.043). In pancreatic cancer, high calpain-2 expression was significantly associated with improved overall survival (P=0.036), which remained significant in multivariate Cox-regression analysis (hazard ratio=0.342; 95% confidence interval=0.157-0.741; P=0.007). In cancers of the bile duct and ampulla, low cytoplasmic expression of calpastatin was significantly associated with poor overall survival (P=0.012), which remained significant in multivariate Cox-regression analysis (hazard ratio=0.595; 95% confidence interval=0.365-0.968; P=0.037). CONCLUSION: The results suggest that calpain-2 and calpastatin expression is important in pancreatic cancers, influencing disease progression. The findings of this study warrant a larger follow-up study.

Concepts: Cancer, Carcinoma in situ, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Liver, Carcinoma, Pancreatic cancer, Pancreatic duct


Groove pancreatitis (GP) is an uncommon disease involving the pancreaticoduodenal area. Possible pathogenesis includes obstructive pancreatitis in the duct of Santorini and impaired communication with the duct of Wirsung, minor papilla stenosis, and leakage causing inflammation. Limited data regarding endoscopic treatment have been published.

Concepts: Duodenum, Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopy, Pancreatic duct, Accessory pancreatic duct, Johann Georg Wirsung, Minor duodenal papilla


Evidence-based guidelines on the management of pancreatic cystic neoplasms (PCN) are lacking. This guideline is a joint initiative of the European Study Group on Cystic Tumours of the Pancreas, United European Gastroenterology, European Pancreatic Club, European-African Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, European Digestive Surgery, and the European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. It replaces the 2013 European consensus statement guidelines on PCN. European and non-European experts performed systematic reviews and used GRADE methodology to answer relevant clinical questions on nine topics (biomarkers, radiology, endoscopy, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN), serous cystic neoplasm, rare cysts, (neo)adjuvant treatment, and pathology). Recommendations include conservative management, relative and absolute indications for surgery. A conservative approach is recommended for asymptomatic MCN and IPMN measuring <40 mm without an enhancing nodule. Relative indications for surgery in IPMN include a main pancreatic duct (MPD) diameter between 5 and 9.9 mm or a cyst diameter ≥40 mm. Absolute indications for surgery in IPMN, due to the high-risk of malignant transformation, include jaundice, an enhancing mural nodule >5 mm, and MPD diameter >10 mm. Lifelong follow-up of IPMN is recommended in patients who are fit for surgery. The European evidence-based guidelines on PCN aim to improve the diagnosis and management of PCN.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Pancreas, Neoplasm, Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, Cyst, Digestion, Pancreatic duct


Pancreatitis is the most common major complication of ERCP and precut endoscopic sphincterotomy (ES). Prophylactic pancreatic duct (PD) stent placement has been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of post-ERCP pancreatitis (PEP) in high-risk settings.

Concepts: Pancreas, Bile, Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, Pancreatic duct


PURPOSE: This study prospectively assessed whether the presence of a bull’s-eye pattern of pancreatic-duct stones on multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) correlated with gene-mutation-associated pancreatitis (GMAP) and whether other signs suggestive of GMAP can be detected with MDCT. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-seven patients with chronic calcific pancreatitis underwent genetic testing for CFTR, SPINK1 and PRSS1 mutations and an MDCT scan of the abdomen. Qualitative analysis assessed the presence or absence of pancreatic-duct stones with bull’s-eye appearance. Quantitative analysis included the number and maximum diameter of stones and the diameter of the main pancreatic duct. RESULTS: Fifteen of 47 patients (32%) were positive for gene mutations (GMAP patients). The bull’s-eye pattern was found in 10/15 patients (67%) with GMAP and in 4/32 (12%) patients with chronic pancreatitis not associated with GMAP (NGMAP; p<0.0001). The mean diameter of duct stones was 15 mm in patients with GMAP and 10 mm in patients with NGMAP (p<0.04). CONCLUSIONS: The presence of duct stones with a bull's-eye pattern correlates with GMAP. Duct stones with diameter ≥15 mm are another sign suggestive of GMAP.

Concepts: Genetics, Pancreas, Medical imaging, Tomographic reconstruction, Qualitative research, Quantitative research, Pancreatitis, Pancreatic duct


INTRODUCTION: The ansa pancreatica is a rare anatomic variation of the pancreatic ducts. It is a communication between the main pancreatic duct (Wirsung) and the accessory pancreatic duct (Santorini). Recently, the ansa pancreatica has been considered as a predisposing factor in patients with idiopathic acute pancreatitis. CASE REPORT: \We report a case of non-alcoholic and non-biliary acute pancreatitis, in a 53-year-old patient. An ansa pancreatica was discovered in a post-operative cholangiography. CONCLUSION: A pancreatic duct variation, as the ansa pancreatica, can be diagnosed during a severe acute pancreatitis. It is still not clear whether the presence of these two pathologies is a coincidence or if the ansa pancreatica is the cause of the acute pancreatitis. New studies are necessary to clarify these points.

Concepts: Medical terms, Pancreas, Digestion, Duodenum, Pancreatic duct, Accessory pancreatic duct, Johann Georg Wirsung, Pancreatic bud


Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors of the main pancreatic duct are rare and usually small due to symptoms of pancreatic duct obstruction. We present a case of a large (3 cm), well-differentiated (G1) lipid-rich polypoid neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas completely occluding the main pancreatic duct with non-neoplastic-entrapped ductules and CK19 positivity. Clinical, radiological, gross, microscopic, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural findings are discussed. The literature pertaining to the unique features of this case is reviewed including clinical and pathologic pitfalls and the possible etiologic and prognostic significance of these findings.

Concepts: Oncology, Pancreas, Neuroendocrine tumor, Pancreatic duct


Pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) specimens present a challenge for surgical pathologists because of the relative rarity of these specimens, combined with the anatomic complexity. Here, we describe our experience on the orientation, dissection, and sampling of PD specimens for a more practical and accurate evaluation of pancreatic, distal common bile duct (CBD), and ampullary tumors. For orientation of PDs, identification of the “trapezoid,” created by the vascular bed at the center, the pancreatic neck margin on the left, and the uncinate margin on the right, is of outmost importance in finding all the pertinent margins of the specimen including the CBD, which is located at the upper right edge of this trapezoid. After orientation, all the margins can be sampled. We submit the uncinate margin entirely as a perpendicular inked margin because this adipose tissue-rich area often reveals subtle satellite carcinomas that are grossly invisible, and, with this approach, the number of R1 resections has doubled in our experience. Then, to ensure proper identification of all lymph nodes (LNs), we utilize the orange-peeling approach, in which the soft tissue surrounding the pancreatic head is shaved off in 7 arbitrarily defined regions, which also serve as shaved samples of the so-called “peripancreatic soft tissue” that defines pT3 in the current American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM. With this approach, our LN count increased from 6 to 14 and LN positivity rate from 50% to 73%. In addition, in 90% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas there are grossly undetected microfoci of carcinoma. For determination of the primary site and the extent of the tumor, we believe bisectioning of the pancreatic head, instead of axial (transverse) slicing, is the most revealing approach. In addition, documentation of the findings in the duodenal surface of the ampulla is crucial for ampullary carcinomas and their recent site-specific categorization into 4 categories. Therefore, we probe both the CBD and the pancreatic duct from distal to the ampulla and cut the pancreatic head to the ampulla at a plane that goes through both ducts. Then, we sample the bisected pancreatic head depending on the findings of the case. For example, for proper staging of ampullary carcinomas, it is imperative to take the sections perpendicular to the duodenal serosa at the “groove” area, as ampullary carcinomas often extend to this region. Amputative (axial) sectioning of the ampulla, although good for documentation of the peri-Oddi spread of the intra-ampullary tumors, unfortunately disallows documentation of mucosal spread of the papilla of Vater tumors (those arising from the edge of the ampulla, where the ducts transition to duodenal mucosa and extending) into the neighboring duodenum. Axial sectioning also often fails to document tumor spread to the “groove” area. In conclusion, knowledge of the gross characteristics of the anatomic hallmarks is essential for proper dissection of PD specimens. The approach described above allows practical and accurate documentation and staging of pancreas, distal CBD, and ampullary cancers.

Concepts: Cancer, Pancreas, Liver, Bile, Digestion, Duodenum, Common bile duct, Pancreatic duct


Traumatic injury to the pancreas is rare and difficult to diagnose. In contrast, traumatic injuries to the liver, spleen and kidney are common and are usually identified with ease by imaging modalities. Pancreatic injuries are usually subtle to identify by different diagnostic imaging modalities, and these injuries are often overlooked in cases with extensive multiorgan trauma. The most evident findings of pancreatic injury are post-traumatic pancreatitis with blood, edema, and soft tissue infiltration of the anterior pararenal space. The alterations of post-traumatic pancreatitis may not be visualized within several hours following trauma as they are time dependent. Delayed diagnoses of traumatic pancreatic injuries are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Imaging plays an important role in diagnosis of pancreatic injuries because early recognition of the disruption of the main pancreatic duct is important. We reviewed our experience with the use of various imaging modalities for diagnosis of blunt pancreatic trauma.

Concepts: Diagnosis, Pancreas, Injury, Digestion, Duodenum, Physical trauma, Pancreatic duct, Pancreatic bud


Chronic pancreatitis is defined as a pathological fibro-inflammatory syndrome of the pancreas in individuals with genetic, environmental and/or other risk factors who develop persistent pathological responses to parenchymal injury or stress. Potential causes can include toxic factors (such as alcohol or smoking), metabolic abnormalities, idiopathic mechanisms, genetics, autoimmune responses and obstructive mechanisms. The pathophysiology of chronic pancreatitis is fairly complex and includes acinar cell injury, acinar stress responses, duct dysfunction, persistent or altered inflammation, and/or neuro-immune crosstalk, but these mechanisms are not completely understood. Chronic pancreatitis is characterized by ongoing inflammation of the pancreas that results in progressive loss of the endocrine and exocrine compartment owing to atrophy and/or replacement with fibrotic tissue. Functional consequences include recurrent or constant abdominal pain, diabetes mellitus (endocrine insufficiency) and maldigestion (exocrine insufficiency). Diagnosing early-stage chronic pancreatitis is challenging as changes are subtle, ill-defined and overlap those of other disorders. Later stages are characterized by variable fibrosis and calcification of the pancreatic parenchyma; dilatation, distortion and stricturing of the pancreatic ducts; pseudocysts; intrapancreatic bile duct stricturing; narrowing of the duodenum; and superior mesenteric, portal and/or splenic vein thrombosis. Treatment options comprise medical, radiological, endoscopic and surgical interventions, but evidence-based approaches are limited. This Primer highlights the major progress that has been made in understanding the pathophysiology, presentation, prevalence and management of chronic pancreatitis and its complications.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Pancreas, Bile, Splenic vein, Digestion, Duodenum, Exocrine gland, Pancreatic duct