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Pancreatic Lesion: Malignancy or Abscess?

Oleg Shulik, Yana Cavanagh, Matthew Grossman

(Department of Gastroenterology, Saint Joseph Medical Center, Paterson, NJ, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2016; 17:337-339

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.895621

BACKGROUND: Pancreatic abscesses are rare. They may be seen in patients with pancreatic inflammation or pancreatitis. Patients with pancreatic abscesses may have abdominal pain, fever, chills, and nausea/vomiting or an inability to eat. Presentation with alternate symptomatology is extremely unusual.
CASE REPORT: A 67-year-old Asian male presented with painless, afebrile obstructive jaundice and a CA 19-9 of 1732 IU. He was found to have a 3.1×2.4 cm low-density lesion in the head of the pancreas and the right lobe of the liver, suggesting malignancy. Surgical management was considered, however additional diagnostic workup, including an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), was performed to complete staging of the presumed mass. A smooth, 3-cm-long, tapering stricture was found it the common bile duct. It was stented from the common hepatic duct to the duodenum. Subsequent endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) evaluation of the pancreatic head lesion revealed a drainable fluid collection that was aspirated and found to contain pyogenic material on pathology. The patient’s symptoms resolved, and he was subsequently managed conservatively. A repeat ERCP confirmed complete resolution of the previously visualized cystic lesion. Interestingly, laboratory values showed concomitant normalization of CA 19-9 to 40 IU.
CONCLUSIONS: EUS-guided biopsy is not widely regarded as a required step before surgery, in the management of patients with pancreatic masses. It is generally reserved for determination of resectability or staging, and only utilized when clinically indicated. However, this practice may be associated with an inherently significant risk of misdiagnosis and subsequent unnecessary surgery, as illustrated by this case. Malignancy was initially suspected in our patient and surgical resection was recommended. Endoscopic measures were only pursued to complete staging. We propose that EUS-guided biopsy may be a crucial diagnostic step in the management algorithm of pancreatic lesions in selected patients. In addition, we encourage consideration of nonmalignant pancreatic collections in the differential diagnosis of pancreatic masses, especially when present in patients with diabetes mellitus.

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